An apology to PUC

The following letter was sent to PUC president, Dr. Heather Knight, Nov. 9, 2010.

Dear Dr. Knight,

We apologize for allowing Dr. Ness’s lecture to be posted on EducateTruth.com without apparent warning. When we approached the issue at La Sierra, it was after a great deal of behind-the-scenes effort. The same was not true for PUC, and for that we are sorry. The decision to post the lecture without first contacting PUC was, perhaps, a bit hasty, but not without valid concern. If the posting of the video of Dr. Ness’s lecture has led to misconceptions about Dr. Ness and/or PUC please let us know what you perceive these misconceptions to be, and what you think Educate Truth can do to help resolve these issues.

Until then, we remain deeply concerned with the way in which the lecture presented existing theories in science that conflict with our beliefs as Adventists. According to PUC’s statement, Myron Widmer provided the context for the lecture, which was “to specifically present existing theories in science that conflict with our beliefs as Adventists, such as the age of the earth, the nature of the flood, and fossil records.” If the goal of the course is “to prepare future pastors for dilemmas they may face in ministry while strengthening the students’ faith in the Adventist Church and its core beliefs,” we would think that there would be evidence within the lecture to demonstrate this was actually happening. Evidence was also absent from the PUC statement that Dr. Ness or any other biology professor would be presenting a future lecture that presented affirming evidence that would reasonably counter the existing theories in the mainstream scientific community. While it is reasonable to present students with theories in science that conflict with our beliefs, how reasonable is it to just leave it at that–a string of conflicts with little, if any, resolution?

We would like to give PUC the opportunity to provide greater context for the lecture in question. We appreciate that you include the following in “Learning Outcomes”: “Recognize the historical and current issues relating to special creation and evolution models of origins. Understand the theological and scientific implications of each model.”

In particular, we note that you offer a course that, presumably, all biology students must take: Three quarters of BIOL 111-112-113 Biological Foundations, which we would expect to contribute to the particular learning outcome we highlighted, and a course that appears to be a senior course, BIOL 450 Philosophy of Origins, which we would expect to be particularly focused on the intersection of evolution and special creation.

We would like to give you the opportunity to provide Educate Truth with course outlines/syllabi which you would normally give to students, which generally include required reading and required papers. We request permission to publicize these at Educate Truth. If you have a sampling of lectures in video format, so much the better. We would appreciate receiving them as well.

Sincerely,

Educate Truth Staff

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522 thoughts on “An apology to PUC

  1. As Professor Kent has repeatedly pointed out, there is no need to redefine the long-accepted definition for the term “macroevolution.” To avoid the accusation that creationists twist its meaning, why not follow Dr. Brand by using the term “megaevolution”?

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  2. @BobRyan:

    All the variations within a single genome are — variations within a single genome (at the organism level). They do not create new more complex genomes from simpler ones.

    The term “genome” is a reference to the genetic package of an single individual within the gene pool. Genome variations between individuals are contained within the gene pool of options. To quote a relevant Wiki article:

    Note that a genome does not capture the genetic diversity or the genetic polymorphism of a species. For example, the human genome sequence in principle could be determined from just half the information on the DNA of one cell from one individual. To learn what variations in genetic information underlie particular traits or diseases requires comparisons across individuals. This point explains the common usage of “genome” (which parallels a common usage of “gene”) to refer not to the information in any particular DNA sequence, but to a whole family of sequences that share a biological context.

    Although this concept may seem counter intuitive, it is the same concept that says there is no particular shape that is the shape of a cheetah. Cheetahs vary, and so do the sequences of their genomes. Yet both the individual animals and their sequences share commonalities, so one can learn something about cheetahs and “cheetah-ness” from a single example of either.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  3. @Eddie:

    As Professor Kent has repeatedly pointed out, there is no need to redefine the long-accepted definition for the term “macroevolution.” To avoid the accusation that creationists twist its meaning, why not follow Dr. Brand by using the term “megaevolution”?

    The point is that the term “macroevolution” is meaningless without a standard definition of “species”; or at least an up front clarification as to which species definition one is using in a discussion of origins – especially when one is talking about the potential and limits of the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  4. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Thanks for asking. As a matter of fact, I do – at least when “macroevolution” is defined as the evolution of a truly novel functional system within a gene pool that is beyond very low levels of functional complexity. 😉

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/flagellum.html#Calculation

    Let me know what you think…”

    Dear Sean

    Thanks very much.

    I read it and my eyes glazed over with the complexity of it all! Not to take away from your work which seems quite extensive. I just don’t have the mathematical ability to begin to comprehend it.

    Good work.

    Regards
    Ken

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  5. Dear Sean

    I was thinking about erosion in the Himalayas. If sedimentary layers from the edges of a tectonic plate are continously being pushed upwards on a vertical slant, would they ever erode away to nothing?

    Just wondering.

    Regards
    Ken

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  6. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Thanks for asking. As a matter of fact, I do – at least when “macroevolution” is defined as the evolution of a truly novel functional system within a gene pool that is beyond very low levels of functional complexity. 😉

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/flagellum.html#Calculation

    Let me know what you think…”

    Dear Sean

    Thanks very much.

    I read it and my eyes glazed over with the complexity of it all! Not to take away from your work which seems quite extensive. I just don’t have the mathematical ability to begin to comprehend it.

    Good work.

    Regards
    Ken

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  7. Dear Sean

    I was thinking about erosion in the Himalayas. If sedimentary layers from the edges of a tectonic plate are continously being pushed upwards on a vertical slant, would they ever erode away to nothing?

    Just wondering.

    Regards
    Ken

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  8. The same functional type of gene pool can have different numbers of chromosomes. For example, horses have 32 pairs of chromosomes while donkeys have only 31 pairs. Yet, they can mate and produce viable offspring (i.e., mules and hinnies). Therefore, they are part of the same functional gene pool of underlying genetic options.
    For a further discussion of having the same basic type of functional information in different chromosomal arrangements or places, see:
    http://www.detectingdesign.com/donkeyshorsesmules.html

    I agree that instead of evolution – you could simply cross-breed plants or animals. However I maintain that this is a case of mixing existing genomes (A chimera) – it is not a case of staying within the same genome. Certainly the Horse-Donkey –> mule example is one of the easier less invasive ones to acheive a resulting composite genome (no new feature not already present in one of the parents). A chimera genome of that variety only produces a distinct dead-end genome not capable of reproducing, not capable of breeding even with itself. (So even IF you did yield to the temptation of “can breed with x or y” as a definition, you have to conclude by that definition that “cannot breed with x or y or even with itself” is “a new genome”. The chimera case is unique and is artificial.

    Along those lines – we are seeing a wide range of chimera mixing of genomes and it will only get worse over time.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  9. Sean – I agree with your statement about personal genomes – however you are missing the vast amount of science that speaks to the genome of the organism not simply the genome of a single individual if you take that limited view as the only context that you are willing to consider.

    In genomics – A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. It is not limited to “an individual” instance of that organism. An organism is a form of life – not just one individual.

    In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus – and this is true of the entire organism – not idosyncratic to just one individual within it.

    The human genome reference sequences do not represent any one person’s genome. Rather, they serve as a starting point for broad comparisons across humanity – resulting in the “human genome” not “Steve’s Genome”. Similar to taking the Karyotype view of the genome for the organism’s genome and each coding gene having a range of allele’s – rather than a specific allele instance view of each gene for a “personal genome”. Nothing new here.

    It is in this context of looking at the number and content of genomes “for the organism” and considering just the coding genes that the genome is said to be static. The result is that Dogs, wolves, Jackals, and Coyotes are all easily lumped into a single organism genome regardless of breeding habbits.

    In the case of donkeys and horses – you have two different Genomes. Call them “A” and “C”. Different Chromosomes AND different number of Chromosomes. And since the organisms are both Eukaryote and require homologous chromosomes, so also is the Mule – but there will be no 63 chromosome Mule producing offspring – since it contains unmatchable counterparts from horse and donkey. I.E the mule genome as an organism (not just one individual) is not a viable genome.

    In the macro evolution story — genome A – “evolves” eventually into Genome-C just by mating with other genome-A members. (Reptiles become birds by mating with reptiles not by mating with birds). Which is why I make a point of not mixing in the chimera idea into macro evolution’s “A evovles into C by mating with other A”.

    In the chimera story – individuals in genome-A mate with Genome-C and get something like genome B that may nor may not be viable. It is not a case of “well it is just that one mule that cannot reproduce” it is the entire genome configuration itself that does not work for reproduction.

    In the context of “organism genome” rather than “personal genome” that you see being mapped in the human genome project and the horse genome project (for example) the set of coding genes is static across the entire organism when you factor out gene allele instances that you have for a given individual – which is why I prefer to look at this concrete measure for evaluating macro-evolution rather than the more subjective and sometimes shell-game-prone, fluid term “species”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  10. Sean said –
    A better concept is that of a gene pool of options; options that are available within the totality of individuals that are capable of crossbreeding to produce viable offspring. Crossbreeding is only possible for those individuals that have very functionally similar genomes to begin with. This is what makes them part of the same basic “pool” of functional options.

    Note also that the actually number of chromosomes is irrelevant to being part of the same gene pool. Consider, for example, that foxes have a varied number of chromosomes ranging from 38-78. Yet, they are all “foxes” and can interbreed to produce both viable and fertile offspring – even though the parents may have different chromosome numbers than each other or than their offspring.

    For another example, consider the house mouse Mus Musculis which generally has 40 chromosomes. However, populations have been discovered with chromosome numbers varying between 22 and 40. For example, over 40 Robertsonian “races” of Mus musculus domesticus have been found in Europe and North Africa. Yet, all of these house mice are still the same type of mouse. The number of chromosome arms are the same and banding studies reveal the genes to be homologous. Obviously, in terms of their relationship, these different mice are all one group – part of the very same gene pool of functional genetic options.

    The “gene pool option” context above is certainly interesting and true. But I am not aware of any example of genomics maping variable chromosome organisms into “one” genome.

    For true polymorphism within a single genome you would need to show the same-karyotype parents producing offspring with varying number of chromosomes – and then of course for macro evolution the offspring would need to include code for new proteins.

    As I stated in the chimera context – I am not claiming that no chimera could reproduce – I only point out that the mule is an example of a dead-end chimara genome where the genetic content – regardless of allele range for genes in that context – it does not work at all. This case is nothing like a mother and father from two different cultures.

    Your point that “gene pool” includes polymorphism does not rule out the source being the chimera phenomina rather than a single genome really splitting on its own.

    The chimera still has the limite in scope to “A” mates with “C” to get “B” rather than “A” mates with “A” to make “C” interms of an organism’s genome. And that breaks the model for macroevolution because Reptiles cannot mate with birds to get birds, nor can they mate with other reptiles having different genome configurations (Karyotypes) to get to birds. Thus even trillions of years is not going to solve the problem.

    Call it all one “gene pool” if you are looking for all the ways to mix genes around no matter what the genome differences, certainly that is a way to account for diversity beyond just varation with a fixed karyotyped genome.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  11. The same functional type of gene pool can have different numbers of chromosomes. For example, horses have 32 pairs of chromosomes while donkeys have only 31 pairs. Yet, they can mate and produce viable offspring (i.e., mules and hinnies). Therefore, they are part of the same functional gene pool of underlying genetic options.
    For a further discussion of having the same basic type of functional information in different chromosomal arrangements or places, see:
    http://www.detectingdesign.com/donkeyshorsesmules.html

    I agree that instead of evolution – you could simply cross-breed plants or animals. However I maintain that this is a case of mixing existing genomes (A chimera) – it is not a case of staying within the same genome. Certainly the Horse-Donkey –> mule example is one of the easier less invasive ones to acheive a resulting composite genome (no new feature not already present in one of the parents). A chimera genome of that variety only produces a distinct dead-end genome not capable of reproducing, not capable of breeding even with itself. (So even IF you did yield to the temptation of “can breed with x or y” as a definition, you have to conclude by that definition that “cannot breed with x or y or even with itself” is “a new genome”. The chimera case is unique and is artificial.

    Along those lines – we are seeing a wide range of chimera mixing of genomes and it will only get worse over time.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  12. @BobRyan:

    I agree that instead of evolution – you could simply cross-breed plants or animals. However I maintain that this is a case of mixing existing genomes (A chimera) – it is not a case of staying within the same genome.

    You misuse the word “genome”. As already noted, a genome describes the genetic material of a single individual. When a man and a woman have a child, they are “mixing existing genomes”. The resulting child is a combination of the different parental genomes – and they are always different.

    A better concept is that of a gene pool of options; options that are available within the totality of individuals that are capable of crossbreeding to produce viable offspring. Crossbreeding is only possible for those individuals that have very functionally similar genomes to begin with. This is what makes them part of the same basic “pool” of functional options.

    Note also that the actually number of chromosomes is irrelevant to being part of the same gene pool. Consider, for example, that foxes have a varied number of chromosomes ranging from 38-78. Yet, they are all “foxes” and can interbreed to produce both viable and fertile offspring – even though the parents may have different chromosome numbers than each other or than their offspring.

    For another example, consider the house mouse Mus Musculis which generally has 40 chromosomes. However, populations have been discovered with chromosome numbers varying between 22 and 40. For example, over 40 Robertsonian “races” of Mus musculus domesticus have been found in Europe and North Africa. Yet, all of these house mice are still the same type of mouse. The number of chromosome arms are the same and banding studies reveal the genes to be homologous. Obviously, in terms of their relationship, these different mice are all one group – part of the very same gene pool of functional genetic options.

    Yet another example of a Robertsonian polymorphism is the house musk shrew that lives in the central region of West Malaysia and has a variation in chromosome numbers from 36 to 40. Also, in Southern India and Sri Lanka musk shrews can be found with having between 30 and 32 chromosomes due to Robertsonian-type changes in chromosome structure.

    Certainly the Horse-Donkey –> mule example is one of the easier less invasive ones to acheive a resulting composite genome (no new feature not already present in one of the parents).

    This is where you are mistaken. There are no functional features in the genome of the mule that were not already present in the parental gene pool of options. The morphologic differences between a horse and a mule or a donkey and a mule are simply the result of the novel combination of the very same basic type of functional options between the horse and the donkey.

    It’s basically the same thing as a man and wife from different ethnic backgrounds producing a child that is a hybrid between the two different ethnic groups. For example, the skin of the child may be of an intermediate shade vs. the skin of the father and mother. However, the functional aspect of “skin color” is not functionally unique in the child vs. either parent, the genomes of which both contained codes for “skin color” that could match up properly during gamete fertilization.

    A chimera genome of that variety only produces a distinct dead-end genome not capable of reproducing, not capable of breeding even with itself. (So even IF you did yield to the temptation of “can breed with x or y” as a definition, you have to conclude by that definition that “cannot breed with x or y or even with itself” is “a new genome”. The chimera case is unique and is artificial.

    Along those lines – we are seeing a wide range of chimera mixing of genomes and it will only get worse over time.

    You don’t seem to understand why a mule is actually sterile. It isn’t sterile because it is a “chimera” that has functionally unique genetics. That’s not true at all. The mule is sterile because there is a chromosomal inversion in the donkey relative to the horse. This chromosomal inversion allows for effective mitosis, and therefore the embryologic development of the mule or hinny. However, when the mule or hinny try to produce their own gametes, the chromosomal inversion that they inherited prevents effective meiosis (do to ineffective chromosomal crossover during meiosis) and the gametes are not genetically viable since they don’t have a complete genomic set of information.

    So, you see, it has nothing to do with the information itself, information that is functionally the same between the horse and the donkey. The sterility of mules and hinnies is the result of how the information is arranged on the chromosomes.

    You need to do a bit more reading into this topic. As a start, you might be interested in actually reading through my essay on this issue:

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/donkeyshorsesmules.html

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  13. Sean – I agree with your statement about personal genomes – however you are missing the vast amount of science that speaks to the genome of the organism not simply the genome of a single individual if you take that limited view as the only context that you are willing to consider.

    In genomics – A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. It is not limited to “an individual” instance of that organism. An organism is a form of life – not just one individual.

    In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus – and this is true of the entire organism – not idosyncratic to just one individual within it.

    The human genome reference sequences do not represent any one person’s genome. Rather, they serve as a starting point for broad comparisons across humanity – resulting in the “human genome” not “Steve’s Genome”. Similar to taking the Karyotype view of the genome for the organism’s genome and each coding gene having a range of allele’s – rather than a specific allele instance view of each gene for a “personal genome”. Nothing new here.

    It is in this context of looking at the number and content of genomes “for the organism” and considering just the coding genes that the genome is said to be static. The result is that Dogs, wolves, Jackals, and Coyotes are all easily lumped into a single organism genome regardless of breeding habbits.

    In the case of donkeys and horses – you have two different Genomes. Call them “A” and “C”. Different Chromosomes AND different number of Chromosomes. And since the organisms are both Eukaryote and require homologous chromosomes, so also is the Mule – but there will be no 63 chromosome Mule producing offspring – since it contains unmatchable counterparts from horse and donkey. I.E the mule genome as an organism (not just one individual) is not a viable genome.

    In the macro evolution story — genome A – “evolves” eventually into Genome-C just by mating with other genome-A members. (Reptiles become birds by mating with reptiles not by mating with birds). Which is why I make a point of not mixing in the chimera idea into macro evolution’s “A evovles into C by mating with other A”.

    In the chimera story – individuals in genome-A mate with Genome-C and get something like genome B that may nor may not be viable. It is not a case of “well it is just that one mule that cannot reproduce” it is the entire genome configuration itself that does not work for reproduction.

    In the context of “organism genome” rather than “personal genome” that you see being mapped in the human genome project and the horse genome project (for example) the set of coding genes is static across the entire organism when you factor out gene allele instances that you have for a given individual – which is why I prefer to look at this concrete measure for evaluating macro-evolution rather than the more subjective and sometimes shell-game-prone, fluid term “species”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  14. Sean said –
    A better concept is that of a gene pool of options; options that are available within the totality of individuals that are capable of crossbreeding to produce viable offspring. Crossbreeding is only possible for those individuals that have very functionally similar genomes to begin with. This is what makes them part of the same basic “pool” of functional options.

    Note also that the actually number of chromosomes is irrelevant to being part of the same gene pool. Consider, for example, that foxes have a varied number of chromosomes ranging from 38-78. Yet, they are all “foxes” and can interbreed to produce both viable and fertile offspring – even though the parents may have different chromosome numbers than each other or than their offspring.

    For another example, consider the house mouse Mus Musculis which generally has 40 chromosomes. However, populations have been discovered with chromosome numbers varying between 22 and 40. For example, over 40 Robertsonian “races” of Mus musculus domesticus have been found in Europe and North Africa. Yet, all of these house mice are still the same type of mouse. The number of chromosome arms are the same and banding studies reveal the genes to be homologous. Obviously, in terms of their relationship, these different mice are all one group – part of the very same gene pool of functional genetic options.

    The “gene pool option” context above is certainly interesting and true. But I am not aware of any example of genomics maping variable chromosome organisms into “one” genome.

    For true polymorphism within a single genome you would need to show the same-karyotype parents producing offspring with varying number of chromosomes – and then of course for macro evolution the offspring would need to include code for new proteins.

    As I stated in the chimera context – I am not claiming that no chimera could reproduce – I only point out that the mule is an example of a dead-end chimara genome where the genetic content – regardless of allele range for genes in that context – it does not work at all. This case is nothing like a mother and father from two different cultures.

    Your point that “gene pool” includes polymorphism does not rule out the source being the chimera phenomina rather than a single genome really splitting on its own.

    The chimera still has the limite in scope to “A” mates with “C” to get “B” rather than “A” mates with “A” to make “C” interms of an organism’s genome. And that breaks the model for macroevolution because Reptiles cannot mate with birds to get birds, nor can they mate with other reptiles having different genome configurations (Karyotypes) to get to birds. Thus even trillions of years is not going to solve the problem.

    Call it all one “gene pool” if you are looking for all the ways to mix genes around no matter what the genome differences, certainly that is a way to account for diversity beyond just varation with a fixed karyotyped genome.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  15. @Eddie: “..there is no need to redefine the long-accepted definition for the term…”

    Thanks! Thanks compounded. Oh goodness, what a relief, your dictum — and don’t you wish anybody followed it. Just when I thought I knew what “wireless” meant (no wires, as for a mouse) they change it (a network, which may involve lots of wires). Oh, you mean “cordless.”

    Meanwhile, perfectly clear words like “compassion,” “reform” (as in tax and medical “reform”), even “democracy,” suffer casual metamorphosis that would challenge Photoshop. How about “racism,” “bigotry”? All of American History is instantly rewritten, by academia, yet. And mores and norms and ethics, redefined nonchalantly. And “debate” is right here being redefined, endearingly adroitly and lavishly. Even Webster Wordnik can’t keep up with such moveOn.Orgage, to re-morph a term myself. Fun, I agree.

    And, alas, Adventist doctrine, as taught me in school, including La Sierra College (before it was a U), somehow doesn’t sound at all the same nowadays. As they say in pop-academia, “Live with it.”

    Seriously, though, they taught me in debating school (night school; life is a school) that before a well-trained debater launches into his rebuttal, he repeats, as Sean is wont to do, his opponent’s proposition so both sides will understand exactly how the definition is being used, or nuanced? No, what I learned was that the protagonist is expected to repeat his understanding of the going definition so that the antagonist, if he can’t handle the argument, can jump on him for mauling the definition, to heck with the argument.

    And while we are reprising ripostes, the neatest, gentlest, most charming (I couldn’t but smile), most lethal, most Christian squelch I’ve ever heard — and I offer it as an example to our own less polished debaters — was executed right here at LLU by a beloved professor, an author of one of our new theistic evo volumes, upon none other than our Dr. Pitman as he was, Ken will want to know this, declaiming Creationism. “Did … I … understand you to SAY…?” But it’s got to be said with the exactly right incredulous tone of voice.

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  16. PS: Oh, and what about “organic,” as in “organic foods”? and “sustainable.” It’s a game, listing all the slick new vocabulary changes, like us kids used to see who could count the most new car models we saw on a trip. Why hasn’t Facebook thought of it? Changes you can believe in.

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  17. @BobRyan:

    The “gene pool option” context above is certainly interesting and true. But I am not aware of any example of genomics maping variable chromosome organisms into “one” genome.

    Again, a genome includes all the basic gene types for a single organism – and, by extension, all organisms within the same “gene pool”. However, a given genome will not include all the various different types of allelic options or variations for a give type of gene. The gene pool, on the other hand, does include all of these allelic variations.

    For true polymorphism within a single genome you would need to show the same-karyotype parents producing offspring with varying number of chromosomes – and then of course for macro evolution the offspring would need to include code for new proteins.

    As I’ve already pointed out to you, parents with different numbers of chromosomes can produce offspring that are both viable and fertile. This means that a functional “kind” of organism is not based on the number of it’s chromosomes.

    As I stated in the chimera context – I am not claiming that no chimera could reproduce – I only point out that the mule is an example of a dead-end chimara genome where the genetic content – regardless of allele range for genes in that context – it does not work at all. This case is nothing like a mother and father from two different cultures.

    You are mistaken here. A mule is not a “chimera”. As already noted, the reason why mules are sterile is not because of some chimeric difference in the functional aspect of the information contained in the mule’s genome. It is because of the actual arrangement of the information on the mule’s chromosomes (i.e., a portion of one parental chromosome is inverted relative to the other parental chromosome). This inversion creates a looping problem during meiosis and makes the mule’s gametes unbalanced with regard to genetic information… and therefore “sterile”.

    The very same thing can happen with humans. It has nothing to do with the quality of the underlying information – only the arrangement of the information on the chromosomes that results when certain chromosomal rearrangements occur.

    Your point that “gene pool” includes polymorphism does not rule out the source being the chimera phenomina rather than a single genome really splitting on its own.

    Again, you don’t seem to understand the concept of “chimeras” or the idea that chromosomal number is not necessarily related to “speciation” or producing some phenotypically unique creature.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  18. @ Sean Pitman

    The point is that the term “macroevolution” is meaningless without a standard definition of “species”; or at least an up front clarification as to which species definition one is using in a discussion of origins

    Sean, the problem with existing species concepts, and therefore the currently used term for “macroevolution,” is that the entire enterprise of taxonomy is based on an effort to categorize variation that is continuous into discrete compartments. All biologists recognize this problem, yet existing species concepts and operational definitions lead to agreement on probably 95-99% of classifications. Only a small percentage are quibbled over…and, of course, creationists look to anything they can to criticize conventional science. To state that these scientists are not “up front” is misleading. They publish, argue, and publish some more. The creationists only argue.

    I’m sure you won’t accept this, but the problems with your definitions of “species” and, hence, “macroevolution,” are manyfold. First, you are the only one using them. Second, your definitions have not been published (nor will they ever in a journal with an impact factor of 1.0 or more). Third, they lack operational clarity; no one is really able to look at two populations of squid, or kangaroo rats, or tortoises, for example, and readily quantify which differences are “functional” and which are not. Any measures of “functionality” will undoubtedly be continuously distributed, so the question becomes: how functionally different is “functional?” Fourth, your definitions haven’t been tested by application to real data in thousands of case-by-case studies, so we have no idea how well they perform and whether they are superior to other definitions. Fifth, your definitions undoubtedly suffer from the same fundamental problem as the others (as I’ve already mentioned for measuring “functional”): no matter what criteria one uses, one simply cannot partition continuous variation into neat and tidy boxes.

    I suggest a little humility when you assert that your definitions are superior to those that have been tested in real time by real scientists using real data.

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  19. @ Sean Pitman

    Yet another example of a Robertsonian polymorphism is the house musk shrew that lives in the central region of West Malaysia and has a variation in chromosome numbers from 36 to 40. Also, in Southern India and Sri Lanka musk shrews can be found with having between 30 and 32 chromosomes due to Robertsonian-type changes in chromosome structure.

    So how many chromosomes did the original house musk shrew have that came out of the ark? Let me guess: you will argue that it had 40 and in some populations lost some, since you maintain that there can never be an increase in genetic information (or “functional” genetic information, as you please).

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  20. Ok – we might be arguing semantics here but for the sake of defining terms – you said –

    Again, a genome includes all the basic gene types for a single organism – and, by extension, all organisms within the same “gene pool”. However, a given genome will not include all the various different types of allelic options or variations for a give type of gene. The gene pool, on the other hand, does include all of these allelic variations.

    Which appears to be addressing a few different things – one of which is that a personal genome does not include all allele variations for a given Gene. However I assume you agree that the organism genome (as in the Human Genome mapping, or the horse genome mapping) does include a given gene and its allele instances for the entire organism. Or is this also a point where we are using different definitions?

    In addition – your “gene pool” term appears to include any form of chimera without limit – since all chimeras result in a “set of genes” contained in chromosomes. In those cases – which organism’s “genome” are you attributing the chimera to?? For example we now have pigs with human blood and we have mules. Who do you attribte the resulting “gene pool” to?

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  21. BobRyan said
    For true polymorphism within a single genome you would need to show the same-karyotype parents producing offspring with varying number of chromosomes – and then of course for macro evolution the offspring would need to include code for new proteins.

    As I’ve already pointed out to you, parents with different numbers of chromosomes can produce offspring that are both viable and fertile. This means that a functional “kind” of organism is not based on the number of it’s chromosomes.

    It appears we have both given examples of two parents that have different numbers of chromosomes – between the parents – having offspring and agreeing that this could be offspring that are fertile not limited to non-fertile offspring. I find that statement in my posts above and in yours.

    Where we appear to “differ” is that I claim that some of this may be the result of chimera mating and you appear to argue that this can never be the source.

    Bob said
    Your point that “gene pool” includes polymorphism does not rule out the source being the chimera phenomina rather than a single genome really splitting on its own.

    Again, you don’t seem to understand the concept of “chimeras” or the idea that chromosomal number is not necessarily related to “speciation” or producing some phenotypically unique creature.

    Here “again” you have ruled out the mixing of parents that produces a chimera as the source for the difference in chromosomes — as if “by definition” chimeras are not produced in such a way.

    Fine – please let me know what definition you are using for chimera if not a case of parents of two different “organism genomes” producing offspring. My statement above is simply that the chimera offspring may be fertile or in other cases may not be depending on the genetic compatability.

    (Assuming we agree on the diffinition for an “organism’s genome” in this question) — where is it that my use of use of the term “chimera” is flawed?.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  22. If you check my posts on this thread – the first time I state the “organism genome” distinctive – I use the boolean condition of different genes (at least one gene that does not code for the same protein in the organism’s genome, so not an allele of an existing gene common to both organism’s genomes) – and a fixed number of Chromosomes.

    BobRyan Said

    http://www.educatetruth.com/news/an-apology-to-puc/comment-page-2/#comment-22480

    “Human” taken as “an organism” has A genome. That genome is static in terms of the number and type of coding genes and Chromosomes. At the individual genome level within the organism (form of life) entirely new coding genes do not pop into existence and express themselves. Rather existing coding genes for the organism in general are damaged or switched on or switched off in addition to having various naturally occuring forms (alleles) yet it is still the same gene type. (for example OCA2 as one of the genes that helps to determine eye color). In the human genome project – the human organism has the OCA2 coding gene and it is always on the same chormosome and in this organism the number chromosomes are fixed.

    And then the next post

    BobRyan said
    http://www.educatetruth.com/news/an-apology-to-puc/comment-page-2/#comment-22481

    All the variations within a single genome are — variations within a single genome (at the organism level). They do not create new more complex genomes from simpler ones. So Wolf, Dog, Coyote, Jackal – ALL have the same number and type of coding genes producing the same set of proteins if those genes are activated and expressed in phenotype, all the same number of chromosomes — Obviously.

    Such “new coding gene TYPE pops into existence for this genome” fiction is not “observed by science” in nature – because it does not HAPPEN in nature.

    I already pointed this out with wolf, the endless breeds of dog, coyote and jackal — all ONE single static genome (at the organism level – in terms of the number of coding genes AND the type of coding genes, the number of chromosomes etc)!

    Recently the discussion has drifted to the idea of the exact same gene pool but in a different chromosome configuration.

    At this point I don’t find a way to equate an organism’s genome to the idea of a “gene pool” encompassing different organism’s genomes’ where they do not contain all of the same gene in the respective organism genome.

    But even in that case – mixing two different organism’s genomes where there exists gene types in one organism’s genome that do not exist in the other organism’s genome – is what I am calling a parent mix that creates a chimera. (A + C = B).

    And getting back to the original point – this does not address the requirement for macroevolution which is (A + A * a billion = C).

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  23. @BobRyan:

    The “gene pool option” context above is certainly interesting and true. But I am not aware of any example of genomics maping variable chromosome organisms into “one” genome.

    Well, you’d be wrong. I’ve listed off several examples for you and there are many many more examples where individuals with differing numbers of chromosomes are indeed classified as the same species and can interbreed to produce viable and fertile offspring.

    What this means is that they all descended from the same ancestral parents – the same original gene pool. There is no such thing as “one genome” that encompasses all the genetic and phenotypic potential of a particular species or “kind” of organism.

    Recently the discussion has drifted to the idea of the exact same gene pool but in a different chromosome configuration.

    That’s correct.

    At this point I don’t find a way to equate an organism’s genome to the idea of a “gene pool” encompassing different organism’s genomes’ where they do not contain all of the same gene in the respective organism genome.

    A particular organisms genome contains all the gene types that are within the gene pool at large. Consider, for example, the “genome” of a bicycle. This genome would contain definitions for two tires, two peddles, a handle bar, a chain, a couple gears, etc… exactly like every other “bicycle” of the same type. However, there could be various options for different types of tires within the pool of options. The tires coded for in the one particular genome may be knobby while the tires coded for by another genome may be smooth. Just because a given genome doesn’t code for both smooth and knobby tires doesn’t mean that both smooth and knobby options are not contained within the same “kind” of bicycle – within the same “pool” of options.

    The same thing is true of living things. Some people are homozygous for “blue eyes”. Others have the code for “brown eyes”. Just because the particular genome for a “blue eyed” person doesn’t contain the genetic code for brown eyes does not mean that the brown-eyed option is not part of the overall human gene pool of options. It is.

    But even in that case – mixing two different organism’s genomes where there exists gene types in one organism’s genome that do not exist in the other organism’s genome – is what I am calling a parent mix that creates a chimera. (A + C = B).

    Then you don’t understand Mendelian genetics – i.e., the concepts of homozygous and heterozygous. The parental population of a species may have the potential for a huge number of phenotypic options, some of which members of subsequent generations may not have. For example, say the parent population has codes for both blue and brown eyes. Members of subsequent populations may loose codes for one or the other. For example, a population of blue-eyed people may arise that no longer has the code for brown eyes within its own particular pool of options. This does not mean, however, that if a person from this community that is homozygous for blue eyes mates with a member of a brown-eyed community that their offspring will be a “chimera” is the classical sense of the term. Nothing truly new will have been created in the offspring that was not already present in the ancestral parental gene pool of phenotypic options.

    And getting back to the original point – this does not address the requirement for macroevolution which is (A + A * a billion = C).

    Exactly. In order for a new qualitative type of genetic function to be realized within a given pool of options, there will have to be a mutation to what already exists within that pool that produces something functionally unique that was never in the ancestral pool of options to begin with. This is the only way to truly change the gene pool, in a functionally novel way, beyond the original functional potential of the ancestral gene pool.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  24. @Professor Kent:

    The point is that the term “macroevolution” is meaningless without a standard definition of “species”; or at least an up front clarification as to which species definition one is using in a discussion of origins. – Sean Pitman

    Sean, the problem with existing species concepts, and therefore the currently used term for “macroevolution,” is that the entire enterprise of taxonomy is based on an effort to categorize variation that is continuous into discrete compartments. All biologists recognize this problem, yet existing species concepts and operational definitions lead to agreement on probably 95-99% of classifications. Only a small percentage are quibbled over…and, of course, creationists look to anything they can to criticize conventional science. To state that these scientists are not “up front” is misleading. They publish, argue, and publish some more. The creationists only argue.

    I thought you were a “creationist”? 😉

    When you’re in a discussion with a creationist over the potential and limits of the evolutionary mechanisms you need to clarify which definition for “species”, among a great many out there, that you are using. Certain definitions of “species” are well within what creationists accept as within the power of RM/NS to achieve. However, certain definitions of “species” are not within the rational power of RM/NS to achieve – even given a practical eternity of time.

    The limits to RM/NS come in the form of novel functional changes. If you’re talking about functionally neutral definitions of “species”, there is no real problem. However, if you’re talking about qualitative functional differences, problems quickly arise because of the exponential decline of RM/NS with each increase in the functional complexity of the differences under consideration.

    I’m sure you won’t accept this, but the problems with your definitions of “species” and, hence, “macroevolution,” are manyfold. First, you are the only one using them. Second, your definitions have not been published (nor will they ever in a journal with an impact factor of 1.0 or more). Third, they lack operational clarity; no one is really able to look at two populations of squid, or kangaroo rats, or tortoises, for example, and readily quantify which differences are “functional” and which are not. Any measures of “functionality” will undoubtedly be continuously distributed, so the question becomes: how functionally different is “functional?” Fourth, your definitions haven’t been tested by application to real data in thousands of case-by-case studies, so we have no idea how well they perform and whether they are superior to other definitions. Fifth, your definitions undoubtedly suffer from the same fundamental problem as the others (as I’ve already mentioned for measuring “functional”): no matter what criteria one uses, one simply cannot partition continuous variation into neat and tidy boxes.

    My definition for functional complexity is quite straight forward and has been published in mainstream journals. The concept of a “level” of functional complexity being based on a minimum size and specificity of arrangement to achieve a particular type of function is not new nor did it originate with me.

    For example, Hazen et. al. define functional complexity as follows:

    1.
    n, the number of letters in the sequence.

    2.
    Ex, the degree of function x of that sequence. In the case of the fire example cited above, Ex might represent the probability that a local fire department will understand and respond to the message (a value that might, in principle, be measured through statistical studies of the responses of many fire departments). Therefore, Ex is a measure (in this case from 0 to 1) of the effectiveness of the message in invoking a response.

    3.
    M(Ex), the total number of different letter sequences that will achieve the desired function, in this case, the threshold degree of response, rEx. The functional information, I(Ex), for a system that achieves a degree of function, rEx, for sequences of exactly n letters is therefore

    I(Ex)= – log2 [M(Ex) / Cn]

    (C = number of possible characters per position)

    Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak, Functional information and the emergence of biocomplexity, 8574-8581| PNAS | May 15, 2007 | vol. 104 | suppl. 1

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/flagellum.html#Calculation

    What is also interesting is that Hazen et. al. go on to note that, “In every system, the fraction of configurations, F(Ex), capable of achieving a specified degree of function will generally decrease with increasing Ex.” And, according to their own formulas, this decrease is an exponential decrease with each linear increase in n – or the number of “letters” or characters (or in this case amino acid residues), at minimum, required by the system to achieve the beneficial function in question.

    I suggest a little humility when you assert that your definitions are superior to those that have been tested in real time by real scientists using real data.

    What I suggest is that you try to realize that the debate between mainstream scientists and creationists isn’t over neutral evolution or differences in functionality that are not qualitatively unique. Rather, the debate is over the potential of RM/NS to produce qualitatively novel functionality within a given gene pool beyond very very low levels of functional complexity in a reasonable amount of time. That is the only definition of “macroevolution” or “species” that is relevant in a conversation such as this because that is the only definition over which there is any real disagreement between creationists and evolutionists…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  25. @Professor Kent:

    Yet another example of a Robertsonian polymorphism is the house musk shrew that lives in the central region of West Malaysia and has a variation in chromosome numbers from 36 to 40. Also, in Southern India and Sri Lanka musk shrews can be found with having between 30 and 32 chromosomes due to Robertsonian-type changes in chromosome structure. – Sean Pitman

    So how many chromosomes did the original house musk shrew have that came out of the ark? Let me guess: you will argue that it had 40 and in some populations lost some, since you maintain that there can never be an increase in genetic information (or “functional” genetic information, as you please).

    Genetic information is not dependent upon chromosome number or even the arrangement of genes within the chromosomes. Do you not yet understand this point? This means that chromosome number can both increase and decrease without any substantive change in the information itself. Humans, for example, evidently sustained a chromosomal fusion event (producing Chr. #2). This means that we now have 23 chromosome pairs whereas our original ancestors most likely had 24 chromosome pairs (the same as apes).

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/pseudogenes.html#Fusion

    Note, however, that this fusion event, which reduced the number of chromosomes in the genome, did not reduce the associated genetic information. The same would be true if we humans were to go from having 23 chromosome pairs to 24 chromosome pairs. The increase in the number of chromosomes would not necessarily change the associated information in degree or quality.

    Chromosomal fusions happen to be fairly common – even within the same species. In fact, there are humans alive today that have chromosomal fusions – and surprise surprise, they’re still human! – morphologically and functionally indistinguishable from other modern humans. Another example can be found with horses. Hybrids of the wild horse have 33 pairs while the domesticated horse has 32 chromosomal pairs. Also, domestic dogs and wolves of the genus canis have 78 chromosomes while foxes have a varied number from 38-78 chromosomes. Yet another example is the house mouse Mus Musculis, which has 40 chromosomes, while a population of mice form the Italian Alps was found to have only 22 chromosomes.

    Again, chromosomal number has very little if anything to do with the amount or quality of the information within a genome.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  26. I strongly encourage all readers to spend a few minutes browsing Kurt Wise’s review of Leonard Brand’s book, “Faith, Reason, and Earth History”, available at this site: http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od201/br_youngagecreationism201.htm. Here are a few choice characterizations of Dr. Brand’s perspective that contrast very markedly with the approach of the “heroes” of this website.

    Brand also provides valuable suggestions on what a Christian ethic of science might be. “We must be honest with the uncertainties in the data,” he writes, “,and be careful to distinguish between data and interpretation. We must approach the task with humility and open-mindedness, even if the data point to dimensions of reality beyond our current understanding. Above all it is essential that we treat each other with respect.” Brand heeds his own ethic throughout the book, consistently discussing the weaknesses and tentativeness of each of the theories he proposes, with humility and open-mindedness. The phrase “more research is needed on this point” recurs frequently throughout the book. Brand is also honest in evaluating alternative models and noting their strengths. “I suggest that at this time naturalism has better answers for some data,” he writes (p. 74).

    Brand also treats evolutionists with respect, noting that “Scientists are portrayed sometimes as being very stupid to believe in evolution. That approach is neither true nor constructive. Evolution is not a theory to laugh at. One who is knowledgeable about the data can make a good case for it”(p. 149). Brand urges creationists to refrain from evolution-bashing and instead “conduct themselves as genuine scientists and get actively involved in research. It is better to develop an alternative paradigm than to merely poke holes in someone else’s theory”(p. 76). He ends by saying, “I see reasons to believe that, if we do trust Him, that belief will help us to be good scientists” (p. 318).

    On all sides of the origins debate, the most difficult phrase to say may be I don’t know. “We like to have answers for everything,” Brand notes (pp. 317-8), “but we don’t have answers for all the questions about earth history. We will be much better off to recognize that the limitation in the available evidence and in the amount of time we have for research on these issues makes it unrealistic to expect scientific answers for all of our questions in the future.” Unfortunately, the demand by the Christian public for answers, and the willingness of popularizers to provide those answers, have encouraged shoddy work on the part of creationists. Ideas are sometimes accepted and popularized before they have been adequately reviewed in the scientific literature. We would have a slimmer but better literature on creationism if the public would refuse to be satisfied with anything but well-tested truth.

    Kurt Wise, by the way, is a well-recognized and well-published, very legitimate creationist scientist (and non-SDA).

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  27. And does he agree with Sean Pitman’s interpretation of the dating of geological layers? No.

    “Radiometric dating, although not an air-tight methodology, is still the strongest evidence for the great age of the fossil-bearing formations” (p. 265).

    Dr. Brand is knowledgable and honest enough to concede that we have serious problems in finding “science” that supports our faith.

    Again, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

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  28. Ahhh…and another quote that Dr. Kurt Wise cites from Dr. Leonard Brand, who is anything but a heretic:

    It is important to remember,” he writes later in the text (p. 161), “that even an interventionist recognizes that microevolution and a certain amount of macroevolution does occur.”

    Indeed, a certain amount of macroevolution does occur! I love this man’s honesty and integrity. He understands the proper meaning of “macroevolution” and makes no pretense that it is “impossible.” He does, however, object to “megaevolution”–the evolution of higher taxonomic groups, which he views as “created kinds.” Personally, I embrace Dr. Brand’s views on microevolution, macroevolution, and megaevolution, and reject Sean Pitman’s unique, unorthodox, unpublished, and untested views.

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  29. @Professor Kent:

    It is important to remember,” he writes later in the text (p. 161), “that even an interventionist recognizes that microevolution and a certain amount of macroevolution does occur.” – Leonard Brand

    Indeed, a certain amount of macroevolution does occur! I love this man’s honesty and integrity. He understands the proper meaning of “macroevolution” and makes no pretense that it is “impossible.” He does, however, object to “megaevolution”–the evolution of higher taxonomic groups, which he views as “created kinds.” Personally, I embrace Dr. Brand’s views on microevolution, macroevolution, and megaevolution, and reject Sean Pitman’s unique, unorthodox, unpublished, and untested views.

    Again, the definition of “macroevolution” is based on what definition, among many options, of “species” you’re using. If your definition of “species” is not dependent on functional genetic changes, then I would also agree that certain forms of “macroevolution” are very easy to achieve in a very short period of time. However, if you’re talking about functional changes, such changes are exponentially less and less likely to be realized this side of a practical eternity of time with each step up the ladder of functional complexity – as recently defined by Hazen et. al. in mainstream literature.

    That, in a nutshell, is the reason why very limited functional evolution is possible while higher level evolution, to include functional differences usually present between higher level taxa, is untenable – regardless of if you call it “macroevolution” or “megaevolution”. The reason for the limited evolutionary progress is the same regardless of the name. The exponentially expanding non-beneficial gap distance in sequence space with each step up the ladder of functional complexity is the statistical reason for the limited evolutionary potential of RM/NS. There would be no such limit to evolutionary potential if the functional aspects of genomic differences were not considered…

    But, you seem to be unable to recognize this as an obvious truism for some very strange reason. Try thinking for yourself for a change. Try putting into words why you think Brand is correct in questioning the evolutionary mechanism as a valid explanation for “higher-order” differences between living things. Why isn’t RM/NS a viable mechanism at some higher point? Do you have any idea?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  30. @ Sean Pitman

    However, certain definitions of “species” are not within the rational power of RM/NS to achieve – even given a practical eternity of time.

    What are you talking about? The most frequently used species concepts (which is more germane here than “definitions”) are the biological, phylogenetic, and evolutionary species concepts. The operative definitions used to delineate species boundaries, such as reciprocal monophyly and 100% reciprocal discrimination, make no assumptions whatsoever about RM/NS.

    My definition for functional complexity is quite straight forward and has been published in mainstream journals. The concept of a “level” of functional complexity being based on a minimum size and specificity of arrangement to achieve a particular type of function is not new nor did it originate with me.

    Here again is the crux of the problem. In either ignorance or arrogance, you fail to recognize or acknowledge the accepted concepts and operational definitions for “species” and substitute, instead, your off-the-wall insistence that species must be defined by “functional complexity.” I don’t believe anyone, including Hazen whom you quote, equates some minimum “functional complexity” with actual boundaries delineating species.

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  31. @ Sean Pitman

    The debate is over the potential of RM/NS to produce qualitatively novel functionality within a given gene pool beyond very very low levels of functional complexity in a reasonable amount of time. That is the only definition of “macroevolution” or “species” that is relevant in a conversation such as this because that is the only definition over which there is any real disagreement between creationists and evolutionists…

    No one’s talking your language, Sean, but you. In using your personal definitions for “macroevolution” and “species,” you’re only debating with yourself. I don’t think you will ever comprehend this.

    Macroevolution (speciation), as used by everyone other than you, happens. That’s a frightening thing for you and Pitmanites the world over to concede, but it happens. Megaevolution–a non-standard term proposed by Dr. Brand and perhaps others, and mentioned several times here by Eddie–may well be a different story (I would say so). But macroevolution happens, and one can deny it only in utter ignorance or arrogance.

    And again, for those who think otherwise, I’m a young-earth creationist just like Sean. An honest one.

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  32. I strongly encourage all readers to spend a few minutes browsing Kurt Wise’s review of Leonard Brand’s book, “Faith, Reason, and Earth History”, available at this site: http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od201/br_youngagecreationism201.htm. Here are a few choice characterizations of Dr. Brand’s perspective that contrast very markedly with the approach of the “heroes” of this website.

    Brand also provides valuable suggestions on what a Christian ethic of science might be. “We must be honest with the uncertainties in the data,” he writes, “,and be careful to distinguish between data and interpretation. We must approach the task with humility and open-mindedness, even if the data point to dimensions of reality beyond our current understanding. Above all it is essential that we treat each other with respect.” Brand heeds his own ethic throughout the book, consistently discussing the weaknesses and tentativeness of each of the theories he proposes, with humility and open-mindedness. The phrase “more research is needed on this point” recurs frequently throughout the book. Brand is also honest in evaluating alternative models and noting their strengths. “I suggest that at this time naturalism has better answers for some data,” he writes (p. 74).

    Brand also treats evolutionists with respect, noting that “Scientists are portrayed sometimes as being very stupid to believe in evolution. That approach is neither true nor constructive. Evolution is not a theory to laugh at. One who is knowledgeable about the data can make a good case for it”(p. 149). Brand urges creationists to refrain from evolution-bashing and instead “conduct themselves as genuine scientists and get actively involved in research. It is better to develop an alternative paradigm than to merely poke holes in someone else’s theory”(p. 76). He ends by saying, “I see reasons to believe that, if we do trust Him, that belief will help us to be good scientists” (p. 318).

    On all sides of the origins debate, the most difficult phrase to say may be I don’t know. “We like to have answers for everything,” Brand notes (pp. 317-8), “but we don’t have answers for all the questions about earth history. We will be much better off to recognize that the limitation in the available evidence and in the amount of time we have for research on these issues makes it unrealistic to expect scientific answers for all of our questions in the future.” Unfortunately, the demand by the Christian public for answers, and the willingness of popularizers to provide those answers, have encouraged shoddy work on the part of creationists. Ideas are sometimes accepted and popularized before they have been adequately reviewed in the scientific literature. We would have a slimmer but better literature on creationism if the public would refuse to be satisfied with anything but well-tested truth.

    Kurt Wise, by the way, is a well-recognized and well-published, very legitimate creationist scientist (and non-SDA).

      (Quote)

    View Comment
  33. And does he agree with Sean Pitman’s interpretation of the dating of geological layers? No.

    “Radiometric dating, although not an air-tight methodology, is still the strongest evidence for the great age of the fossil-bearing formations” (p. 265).

    Dr. Brand is knowledgable and honest enough to concede that we have serious problems in finding “science” that supports our faith.

    Again, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

      (Quote)

    View Comment
  34. Ahhh…and another quote that Dr. Kurt Wise cites from Dr. Leonard Brand, who is anything but a heretic:

    It is important to remember,” he writes later in the text (p. 161), “that even an interventionist recognizes that microevolution and a certain amount of macroevolution does occur.”

    Indeed, a certain amount of macroevolution does occur! I love this man’s honesty and integrity. He understands the proper meaning of “macroevolution” and makes no pretense that it is “impossible.” He does, however, object to “megaevolution”–the evolution of higher taxonomic groups, which he views as “created kinds.” Personally, I embrace Dr. Brand’s views on microevolution, macroevolution, and megaevolution, and reject Sean Pitman’s unique, unorthodox, unpublished, and untested views.

      (Quote)

    View Comment
  35. Indeed, a certain amount of macroevolution does occur! I love this man’s honesty and integrity. He understands the proper meaning of “macroevolution” and makes no pretense that it is “impossible.” He does, however, object to “megaevolution”–the evolution of higher taxonomic groups, which he views as “created kinds.” Personally, I embrace Dr. Brand’s views on microevolution, macroevolution, and megaevolution, and reject Sean Pitman’s unique, unorthodox, unpublished, and untested views.

    This is exactly how I view things as well. I have known Brand for many years and have found him to be a real man of science and a man of the church. But anyone here at ET who wants to claim agreement between Pitman and Brand simpky has not taken the time to read Brand’s works, Pitman’s posts, or both. There is very little resemblence. And Brand, thankfully, uses standard terminology and knows what a species is, even though what a species is to Pitman is a mystery to me.

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  36. @Professor Kent:

    It is important to remember,” he writes later in the text (p. 161), “that even an interventionist recognizes that microevolution and a certain amount of macroevolution does occur.” – Leonard Brand

    Indeed, a certain amount of macroevolution does occur! I love this man’s honesty and integrity. He understands the proper meaning of “macroevolution” and makes no pretense that it is “impossible.” He does, however, object to “megaevolution”–the evolution of higher taxonomic groups, which he views as “created kinds.” Personally, I embrace Dr. Brand’s views on microevolution, macroevolution, and megaevolution, and reject Sean Pitman’s unique, unorthodox, unpublished, and untested views.

    Again, the definition of “macroevolution” is based on what definition, among many options, of “species” you’re using. If your definition of “species” is not dependent on functional genetic changes, then I would also agree that certain forms of “macroevolution” are very easy to achieve in a very short period of time. However, if you’re talking about functional changes, such changes are exponentially less and less likely to be realized this side of a practical eternity of time with each step up the ladder of functional complexity – as recently defined by Hazen et. al. in mainstream literature.

    That, in a nutshell, is the reason why very limited functional evolution is possible while higher level evolution, to include functional differences usually present between higher level taxa, is untenable – regardless of if you call it “macroevolution” or “megaevolution”. The reason for the limited evolutionary progress is the same regardless of the name. The exponentially expanding non-beneficial gap distance in sequence space with each step up the ladder of functional complexity is the statistical reason for the limited evolutionary potential of RM/NS. There would be no such limit to evolutionary potential if the functional aspects of genomic differences were not considered…

    But, you seem to be unable to recognize this as an obvious truism for some very strange reason. Try thinking for yourself for a change. Try putting into words why you think Brand is correct in questioning the evolutionary mechanism as a valid explanation for “higher-order” differences between living things. Why isn’t RM/NS a viable mechanism at some higher point? Do you have any idea?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  37. @OTNT_Believer:

    This is exactly how I view things as well. I have known Brand for many years and have found him to be a real man of science and a man of the church. But anyone here at ET who wants to claim agreement between Pitman and Brand simpky has not taken the time to read Brand’s works, Pitman’s posts, or both. There is very little resemblence. And Brand, thankfully, uses standard terminology and knows what a species is, even though what a species is to Pitman is a mystery to me.

    I have also known Brand for many years and he still sends me the occasional E-mail on interesting discoveries or ideas. He has come to many of my own lectures and I have attended several of his and read many of his papers. Brand is quite clearly a young-life creationists who believes that the weight of empirical evidence favors the young-life perspective.

    Also, Brand does not argue that one should have “faith” against all empirical evidence to the contrary. It is indeed written that, “The righteous will live by faith”, but it doesn’t say that the faith of the righteous is blind to empirical reality or has no basis in that reality – quite the contrary in fact. The Bible continually points to the weight of empirical evidence as the basis for the faith of the great men and women of faith.

    Brand’s comments that radiometric dating is one of the most powerful arguments that evolutionists have is true. It is one of their best arguments for the ancient age of life on this planet. However, Brand also points out that radiometric dating is not the only way to estimate the age of various features of the geologic/fossil records. There are many features of these records that are dramatically inconsistent with radiometric dating. There are also various forms of radiometric dating that are often dramatically inconsistent with each other. Radiocarbon dating, for example, is often at odds with other radiometric dating techniques.

    Tektites dating at almost a million years old by K-Ar dating techniques date at less than 10,000 years old by radiocarbon dating.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/radiometricdating.html#Tektites

    The same thing is true of coal and oil which are dated at 50 or 60 million years by various radiometric dating methods, but less than 40k years by radiocarbon dating.

    Cosmogenic isotope dating has also been used to date the Atacama Desert in northern Chile at around 25 million years of age. However, investigators have since discovered fairly extensive deposits of very well preserved animal droppings associated with grasses as well as human-produced artifacts like arrowheads. Subsequent radiocarbon dating of organic materials indicate very active life in at least semiarid conditions within the past 11,000 years – a far cry from 25 million years.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/radiometricdating.html#Cosmogenic

    There are numerous other inconsistencies between various dating methods, to include methods that are not based on radiometric dating. So, it isn’t that there is no rational or scientific basis to question mainstream age assumptions regarding the fossil record.

    Also, if Brand “knows what a species is”, what definition of “species” is he using? Is he using a definition of “species” that is based on a certain degree of divergence of something like cytochrome b that has no real functional effect on the organism? After all, some scientists have used a 0.3% divergence of this molecule to give Darwin’s finches unique taxonomic status. Is such a basis of a “new species” what you would call “macroevolution”? – a 0.3% genetic change that has no real functional effect on the organism compared to the ancestral gene pool? If so, then I believe in certain forms of “macroevolution” as well.

    The problem here is that many evolutionists say that if certain forms of “macroevolution” can be unambiguously demonstrated, then all forms of macroevolution or “speciation” are likely – to include those that involve truly novel functional differences beyond very low levels of functional complexity (as defined by Hazen et. al.). In other words, if cytochrome c or b can change over short periods of time, it is obvious that birds evolved from lizards given a few million years… right?!

    Come on now. There are clearly different types of “macroevolution” under discussion here. You need to be clear on what type of evolution you’re talking about.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  38. @Sean

    Also, if Brand “knows what a species is”, what definition of “species” is he using? Is he using a definition of “species” that is based on a certain degree of divergence of something like cytochrome b that has no real functional effect on the organism? After all, some scientists have used a 0.3% divergence of this molecule to give Darwin’s finches unique taxonomic status. Is such a basis of a “new species” what you would call “macroevolution”? – a 0.3% genetic change that has no real functional effect on the organism compared to the ancestral gene pool? If so, then I believe in certain forms of “macroevolution” as well.

    Either you are showing your ignorance or you are just playing with me. No mainstream definition of species has anything to do with divergence of a DNA sequence. Brand and every other geologist uses the biological species concept in combination with the morphological species concept. For fossils, of course, it is essentially the morphological species concept that is used. This approach is by no means perfect, as any taxonomist will tell you, but a skilled taxonomist can define species well enough that in better than 90% of cases other taxonomists agree. There are, of course, always those scientists trying to further refine how species are defined, or who recognize the subjectivity of the definition and hope to find more objective ways to define species. And please do not feel you need to now list all the faults with the standard ways of defining species. There have already been whole books on the subject and I am pretty well acquainted with enough of the difficulties already.

    What I and Prof. Kent are objecting to is that you are introducing new terminology that is so non-standard that it is not apparently recognized by anyone else in the creationist/evolutionist community. You need to publish in a legitimate publication of some kind if you hope to be taken seriously outside your own little world. I would love to see you publish in any venue that has some degree of peer review, even if all that means is the editor of an established publication. Since the best you have been able to accomplish is posting your stuff on your own web site and in a self-published book, it is difficult to evaluate how acceptable your alternative species concept might even be. At this point, I don’t even really know what your “functional” requirement means in practice.

    So, until you get something published that has passed review, I can’t see wasting my time arguing about such a slippery new theory. I would even consider seeing your work published in the Review as a start. It’s just at this point you haven’t even accomplished that.

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  39. @ Sean Pitman

    There are clearly different types of “macroevolution” under discussion here. You need to be clear on what type of evolution you’re talking about.

    Dude, no one is disputing that different forms of “macroevolution” can be discussed. OTNT_Believer, Eddie, and I are crystal clear that we are using the same definition used by biologists the world over–and you have the temerity to put us down for that (as in “Try thinking for yourself for a change”)! If you insist on your own definition, you’re simply talking past us and others–and you’re misleading your many blind-faith followers.

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  40. @ Sean Pitman

    The problem here is that many evolutionists say that if certain forms of “macroevolution” can be unambiguously demonstrated, then all forms of macroevolution or “speciation” are likely.

    So let them say it, Sean! This doesn’t justify lying to Church members by reassuring them macroevolution does not occur, or inventing a new definition to ensure that macroevolution does not occur. What’s wrong with being forthcoming like Dr. Brand and saying the truth: macroevolution happens. This is NOT the same as saying megaevolution (change at higher taxonomic levels) occurs.

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  41. @OTNT_Believer:

    This is exactly how I view things as well. I have known Brand for many years and have found him to be a real man of science and a man of the church. But anyone here at ET who wants to claim agreement between Pitman and Brand simpky has not taken the time to read Brand’s works, Pitman’s posts, or both. There is very little resemblence. And Brand, thankfully, uses standard terminology and knows what a species is, even though what a species is to Pitman is a mystery to me.

    I have also known Brand for many years and he still sends me the occasional E-mail on interesting discoveries or ideas. He has come to many of my own lectures and I have attended several of his and read many of his papers. Brand is quite clearly a young-life creationists who believes that the weight of empirical evidence favors the young-life perspective.

    Also, Brand does not argue that one should have “faith” against all empirical evidence to the contrary. It is indeed written that, “The righteous will live by faith”, but it doesn’t say that the faith of the righteous is blind to empirical reality or has no basis in that reality – quite the contrary in fact. The Bible continually points to the weight of empirical evidence as the basis for the faith of the great men and women of faith.

    Brand’s comments that radiometric dating is one of the most powerful arguments that evolutionists have is true. It is one of their best arguments for the ancient age of life on this planet. However, Brand also points out that radiometric dating is not the only way to estimate the age of various features of the geologic/fossil records. There are many features of these records that are dramatically inconsistent with radiometric dating. There are also various forms of radiometric dating that are often dramatically inconsistent with each other. Radiocarbon dating, for example, is often at odds with other radiometric dating techniques.

    Tektites dating at almost a million years old by K-Ar dating techniques date at less than 10,000 years old by radiocarbon dating.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/radiometricdating.html#Tektites

    The same thing is true of coal and oil which are dated at 50 or 60 million years by various radiometric dating methods, but less than 40k years by radiocarbon dating.

    Cosmogenic isotope dating has also been used to date the Atacama Desert in northern Chile at around 25 million years of age. However, investigators have since discovered fairly extensive deposits of very well preserved animal droppings associated with grasses as well as human-produced artifacts like arrowheads. Subsequent radiocarbon dating of organic materials indicate very active life in at least semiarid conditions within the past 11,000 years – a far cry from 25 million years.

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/radiometricdating.html#Cosmogenic

    There are numerous other inconsistencies between various dating methods, to include methods that are not based on radiometric dating. So, it isn’t that there is no rational or scientific basis to question mainstream age assumptions regarding the fossil record.

    Also, if Brand “knows what a species is”, what definition of “species” is he using? Is he using a definition of “species” that is based on a certain degree of divergence of something like cytochrome b that has no real functional effect on the organism? After all, some scientists have used a 0.3% divergence of this molecule to give Darwin’s finches unique taxonomic status. Is such a basis of a “new species” what you would call “macroevolution”? – a 0.3% genetic change that has no real functional effect on the organism compared to the ancestral gene pool? If so, then I believe in certain forms of “macroevolution” as well.

    The problem here is that many evolutionists say that if certain forms of “macroevolution” can be unambiguously demonstrated, then all forms of macroevolution or “speciation” are likely – to include those that involve truly novel functional differences beyond very low levels of functional complexity (as defined by Hazen et. al.). In other words, if cytochrome c or b can change over short periods of time, it is obvious that birds evolved from lizards given a few million years… right?!

    Come on now. There are clearly different types of “macroevolution” under discussion here. You need to be clear on what type of evolution you’re talking about.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  42. @Sean

    Also, if Brand “knows what a species is”, what definition of “species” is he using? Is he using a definition of “species” that is based on a certain degree of divergence of something like cytochrome b that has no real functional effect on the organism? After all, some scientists have used a 0.3% divergence of this molecule to give Darwin’s finches unique taxonomic status. Is such a basis of a “new species” what you would call “macroevolution”? – a 0.3% genetic change that has no real functional effect on the organism compared to the ancestral gene pool? If so, then I believe in certain forms of “macroevolution” as well.

    Either you are showing your ignorance or you are just playing with me. No mainstream definition of species has anything to do with divergence of a DNA sequence. Brand and every other geologist uses the biological species concept in combination with the morphological species concept. For fossils, of course, it is essentially the morphological species concept that is used. This approach is by no means perfect, as any taxonomist will tell you, but a skilled taxonomist can define species well enough that in better than 90% of cases other taxonomists agree. There are, of course, always those scientists trying to further refine how species are defined, or who recognize the subjectivity of the definition and hope to find more objective ways to define species. And please do not feel you need to now list all the faults with the standard ways of defining species. There have already been whole books on the subject and I am pretty well acquainted with enough of the difficulties already.

    What I and Prof. Kent are objecting to is that you are introducing new terminology that is so non-standard that it is not apparently recognized by anyone else in the creationist/evolutionist community. You need to publish in a legitimate publication of some kind if you hope to be taken seriously outside your own little world. I would love to see you publish in any venue that has some degree of peer review, even if all that means is the editor of an established publication. Since the best you have been able to accomplish is posting your stuff on your own web site and in a self-published book, it is difficult to evaluate how acceptable your alternative species concept might even be. At this point, I don’t even really know what your “functional” requirement means in practice.

    So, until you get something published that has passed review, I can’t see wasting my time arguing about such a slippery new theory. I would even consider seeing your work published in the Review as a start. It’s just at this point you haven’t even accomplished that.

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  43. @ Sean Pitman

    There are clearly different types of “macroevolution” under discussion here. You need to be clear on what type of evolution you’re talking about.

    Dude, no one is disputing that different forms of “macroevolution” can be discussed. OTNT_Believer, Eddie, and I are crystal clear that we are using the same definition used by biologists the world over–and you have the temerity to put us down for that (as in “Try thinking for yourself for a change”)! If you insist on your own definition, you’re simply talking past us and others–and you’re misleading your many blind-faith followers.

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  44. @ Sean Pitman

    The problem here is that many evolutionists say that if certain forms of “macroevolution” can be unambiguously demonstrated, then all forms of macroevolution or “speciation” are likely.

    So let them say it, Sean! This doesn’t justify lying to Church members by reassuring them macroevolution does not occur, or inventing a new definition to ensure that macroevolution does not occur. What’s wrong with being forthcoming like Dr. Brand and saying the truth: macroevolution happens. This is NOT the same as saying megaevolution (change at higher taxonomic levels) occurs.

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  45. @ Sean PitmanDude, no one is disputing that different forms of “macroevolution” can be discussed. OTNT_Believer, Eddie, and I are crystal clear that we are using the same definition used by biologists the world over–and you have the temerity to put us down for that (as in “Try thinking for yourself for a change”)! If you insist on your own definition, you’re simply talking past us and others–and you’re misleading your many blind-faith followers.  (Quote)

    “Dude” Hmmmm, is “Professor” Kent loosing his cool?

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  46. @Professor Kent:

    So let them say it, Sean! This doesn’t justify lying to Church members by reassuring them macroevolution does not occur, or inventing a new definition to ensure that macroevolution does not occur. What’s wrong with being forthcoming like Dr. Brand and saying the truth: macroevolution happens. This is NOT the same as saying megaevolution (change at higher taxonomic levels) occurs.

    As I’ve already noted for you, the term “macroevolution” means so many things depending upon the definition of “species” being used. It may be based on non-functional differences. Or, it may mean the differences between birds and reptiles. Because of this, it is misleading to say “macroevolution happens” without a great deal of qualification.

    As far as publication is concerned, a paper of mine is currently under review for publication in Origins on this particular topic. It has been accepted pending additional refinements suggested by various vetters of the journal. Jim Gibson wrote to me and told me, “I was told the reviewer likes the paper, but feels it needs further clarification.”

    Now, regardless of if such ideas are published or not, you personally shouldn’t need peer review and the opinions of others before you are able to think for yourself in the consideration of new concepts and ideas… especially when they are as intuitively simple and straight forward as a functional basis for determining the potential and limits of evolutionary progress over a given span of time…

    If you insist on your own definition, you’re simply talking past us and others–and you’re misleading your many blind-faith followers.

    I’m only pointing out that creationists don’t have a problem with neutral evolution or with definitions of “species” that are based on functionally neutral differences or losses of functionality from what was originally available in the ancestral gene pool of options. Creationists do have a problem with with claims of “macroevolution” when it comes to novel functional differences beyond very low levels of functional complexity. This has always been the case. And, you don’t need to be a genius to understand this concept or its relevance to the creation/evolution debate.

    I don’t care what words or titles you want to give to such functional differences, but the concept is quite simple and has been defined in mainstream literature. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what I’m talking about. I’ve given talks before well-educated doctors and scientists as well as college and high schools students. All understood exactly what I was talking about as well as the implications for mainstream evolutionary theories. Your efforts to make it appear like this concept is somehow mysterious is nothing but a clear attempt to try to avoid the obvious.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  47. @OTNT_Believer:

    Either you are showing your ignorance or you are just playing with me. No mainstream definition of species has anything to do with divergence of a DNA sequence. Brand and every other geologist uses the biological species concept in combination with the morphological species concept.

    There are in fact mainstream definitions of species which are almost entirely dependent upon the divergence of a DNA sequence independent of any detectable morphologic difference. For example, “cryptic species” are defined as, “a group of species which satisfy the biological definition of species—that is, they are reproductively isolated from each other—but whose morphology is very similar (in some cases virtually identical)…

    For example, mitochondrial DNA research published in January 2008 suggests that there are at least 11 genetically distinct populations of giraffes. Similar methods also found that the Amazonian frog Eleutherodactylus ockendeni is actually at least 3 different species that diverged over 5 million years ago.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptic_species_complex

    A similar basis has been used in literature, as already noted for you, to establish a very close relationship between Darwin Finches and several other types of birds within the “domed nest clade”… with sequence divergence of cytochrome b as little as 0.3%. “Thus, most species within the domed nest clade exhibit levels of genetic divergence less than that of pairs of congeneric, closely related species of birds. This contrasts with the traditional taxonomies that have placed these species into 13 different genera and three different families based on dramatic morphological differences in bill size and other characters.”

    http://eebweb.arizona.edu/courses/galapagos/handouts%202009/articles%202009%20for%20web/phylogenetic%20relationships.pdf

    So, unless you qualify what type of difference you’re talking about when you use the term “macroevolution”, this term can mean many very different things that are not necessarily related to any novel functional difference between the gene pools under consideration beyond very low levels of functional complexity (as defined by Hazen et. al.)…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  48. Sean, I applaud your attempt to redefine a species but if you think your new “functional species concept”–or whatever you choose to call it–is superior to previous concepts, you’ll have a hard time getting it accepted by biologists unless you publish it in a mainstream biology journal instead of burying it in a creationist journal. Of course the real reason why species are such slippery entities to define is because they are dynamic rather than static, with similar populations differing from each other because they are in various degrees of divergence–what biologists refer to as speciation, or “macroevolution.” Incidentally, the biological species concept works reasonably well with sexually reproducing vertebrates. The American Ornithologists’ Union, for example, has always applied the biological species concept and rejected all other species concepts in its classification of bird species in the Western Hemisphere.

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  49. Sean, after trying to digest all the stuff you’ve written above I’m still a bit puzzled by what your “functionality” refers to. You seem to be applying some sort of a measurable genetic definition whereas I think of functionality as being ecological–i.e., the functional role of a species within an ecosystem. Can you provide us with an explicit definition of your species concept and then explain how it would be applied by taxonomists? Does it require genetic measurements? For example, the Snow Goose has two dramatically different phenotypes: a “blue” morph and a “white” morph. Are these morphs considered to be sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition as distinct species? The Rat Snake has dramatic clinal variation throughout its range, including essentially black populations (“Black Rat Snake”), yellow populations (“Yellow Rat Snake”), orange populations (“Everglades Rat Snake”), blotched gray and black populations (“Gray Rat Snake”), etc., with intermediates. Are these color morphs sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition as distinct species? The Alder Flycatcher and Willow Flycatcher are virtually identical yet differ in their vocalizations. Would their voices be considered sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition as distinct species? The Eastern Gray Tree Frog and Cope’s Gray Tree Frog are essentially identical but differ in their number of chromosomes, 48 in the former and 24 in the latter. Would these differences be considered sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition of distinct species?

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  50. @Eddie:

    Sean, I applaud your attempt to redefine a species but if you think your new “functional species concept”–or whatever you choose to call it–is superior to previous concepts, you’ll have a hard time getting it accepted by biologists unless you publish it in a mainstream biology journal instead of burying it in a creationist journal.

    No mainstream journal is going to publish anything that suggests that the mechanism of RM/NS is actually limited to very low levels of functional complexity… even given a practical eternity of time. Just look at what happened to those who published Stephen Meyer’s paper on this topic:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2189

    This isn’t just science we’re talking about here. This is about people’s religion – a religion based on the creative potential of mindless Naturalistic mechanisms. Such people do not accept much less publish challenges to their religion lightly 😉

    Of course the real reason why species are such slippery entities to define is because they are dynamic rather than static, with similar populations differing from each other because they are in various degrees of divergence–what biologists refer to as speciation, or “macroevolution.”

    This isn’t the only reason why the concept of “species” is very slippery. Another reason is because functional as well as non-functional definitions are used…

    Incidentally, the biological species concept works reasonably well with sexually reproducing vertebrates. The American Ornithologists’ Union, for example, has always applied the biological species concept and rejected all other species concepts in its classification of bird species in the Western Hemisphere.

    Even biological species concepts are not always based on truly novel functional differences compared to the ancestral gene pool of original phenotypic options.

    Sean, after trying to digest all the stuff you’ve written above I’m still a bit puzzled by what your “functionality” refers to. You seem to be applying some sort of a measurable genetic definition whereas I think of functionality as being ecological–i.e., the functional role of a species within an ecosystem.

    There is no functional role of anything without there being a functional aspect to the underlying genetics of the “species” under consideration.

    Can you provide us with an explicit definition of your species concept and then explain how it would be applied by taxonomists?

    Sure. A functional difference is a novel phenotypic change compared to the ancestral gene pool of phenotypic options. Low-level phenotypic changes can be realized via RM/NS over time. However, such changes are limited to the production of novel systems of function which require less than 1,000 specifically arranged amino acids. Anything beyond this level of functional complexity (as defined by Hazen et. al.) would require trillions upon trillions of years of time to produce within any gene pool of phenotypic options.

    Therefore, from the creationist perspective, the biblical “kind” should be defined as gene pool differences that are based on qualitatively novel systems of function beyond the 1000 fsaar threshold level of functional complexity.

    Does it require genetic measurements? For example, the Snow Goose has two dramatically different phenotypes: a “blue” morph and a “white” morph. Are these morphs considered to be sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition as distinct species? The Rat Snake has dramatic clinal variation throughout its range, including essentially black populations (“Black Rat Snake”), yellow populations (“Yellow Rat Snake”), orange populations (“Everglades Rat Snake”), blotched gray and black populations (“Gray Rat Snake”), etc., with intermediates. Are these color morphs sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition as distinct species? The Alder Flycatcher and Willow Flycatcher are virtually identical yet differ in their vocalizations. Would their voices be considered sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition as distinct species? The Eastern Gray Tree Frog and Cope’s Gray Tree Frog are essentially identical but differ in their number of chromosomes, 48 in the former and 24 in the latter. Would these differences be considered sufficiently “functionally” different to warrant recognition of distinct species?

    No. None of these “differences” require qualitatively novel functionality beyond what was available within the ancestral gene pool beyond the 1000 fsaar of functional complexity. The loss of coloration, producing a white phenotype, is often based on a mutational loss to a pre-existing gene for color. Such mutational losses are very easy to realize within a gene pool in a very short period of time. Also, function is not based on chromosome number. There are many examples of organisms with different numbers of chromosomes that can and do mate to produce viable and even fertile offspring. Such examples demonstrate the fact that the very same information can be located on different numbers of chromosomes and even in different chromosomal arrangements.

    Consider also that many of the phenotypic features you list are expressed by different breeds of dogs or cats or chickens – or even different ethnic variations of humans. Yet, no one refers to such phenotypic differences as a basis for different “species” classification between humans.

    In short, the ability to interbreed and produce viable offspring is a big clue to the functional nature of the respective gene pools – indicating a shared original ancestral gene pool and membership within the same biblical “kind” of organism.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  51. @Sean

    There are in fact mainstream definitions of species which are almost entirely dependent upon the divergence of a DNA sequence independent of any detectable morphologic difference. For example, “cryptic species” are defined as, “a group of species which satisfy the biological definition of species—that is, they are reproductively isolated from each other—but whose morphology is very similar (in some cases virtually identical)…
    For example, mitochondrial DNA research published in January 2008 suggests that there are at least 11 genetically distinct populations of giraffes. Similar methods also found that the Amazonian frog Eleutherodactylus ockendeni is actually at least 3 different species that diverged over 5 million years ago.”
    A similar basis has been used in literature, as already noted for you, to establish a very close relationship between Darwin Finches and several other types of birds within the “domed nest clade”… with sequence divergence of cytochrome b as little as 0.3%. “Thus, most species within the domed nest clade exhibit levels of genetic divergence less than that of pairs of congeneric, closely related species of birds. This contrasts with the traditional taxonomies that have placed these species into 13 different genera and three different families based on dramatic morphological differences in bill size and other characters.”

    In all of these cases you refer to the DNA divergences or similarities were not used to define these taxa. In each case the biological species concept was employed. I have no problem with your functional difference ideas, I just disagree on your use of such ideas. We have a well functioning definition of species used by mainstream taxonomists, and trying to replace it with another equally problematic species concept that is used by no one else but a few creationists just further marginalizes any potential for discussion with mainstream taxonomists.

    i think I understand the point you are trying to make with functional difference being the dividing line between “created types” and variation within a created type. This is essentially the point that rand is making with his term megaevolution. So why not at least work within the framework of what other creationinists already have defined? Even Behe and Demski have defined these kinds of boundaries, basing them on irreducible comlexity arguments.

    You may not like the biological species concept, but just tossing it out and substituting it with a functional difference requirement only adds a different problem, and since no one else uses this definition of species, you have no common ground for discussion. According to you reasoning Darwin’s finches are not separate species at all and in fact are conspecific with other members of the “domed-nest clade.”

    It seems so much more resonable to consider Darwin’s Finches as simply separate species, as recognized by all taxonomists, and as an example of macroevolution, as defined by evolutionary theory. Then, ala Brand, consider birds and reptiles as separate classes (or even part of the same monophyletic group) and as an example of megaevolution. This makes it then a lot easier for me as a creationist to say that I accept the more limited definition of macroevolution that formed the different kinds of domed-nest builders, but reject the megaevolutionary process proposed to have been the mechanism whereby birds evolved from reptilian ancestors.

    Of course, for me personally, I haven’t yet figured out where the lines should be drawn between macro- and megaevolution. I certainly don’t think birds evolved from reptiles, so that is megaevolution, but what about hummingbirds vs. sunbirds? I think there is enough work to be done using these more compatible concepts, so can’t we just use them and quit quibbling over what a species is and leave that to taxonomists?

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  52. Lucian says: “Dude” — Hmmmm, is “Professor” Kent loosing his cool?

    Ah, that’s the macro-mega-question taking over right now. Natural instinct and norms of decorum and usage evolved over the eons would easily recognize that cool is, sigh, being lost. But research into the emergent norms of pop-academia, employing google or data from any mega-macro Postmodernist seminar, especially those of a theological bent, compels the opposite conclusion. “Dude” is not uncool; “dude” is cool. “Dude” is “in” — in academic street talk as well as MTV. Hard to tell the difference sometimes. Indeed the latest underground “Handbook of Style for Postmodernist Doctoral Dissertation,” a privately published mega-macro-volume, duly mega-macro-peer-reviewed, renders “dude” absolutely mega-mandatory to all academic discourse. Working in “dude” is as pivotal to peer-acceptance as working in footnotes and booting out Genesis 1. Micro- vs. mega- may still be quibbled among the unlearned, but not “dude” among the enlightened. “Dude” is the not-so-secret ivy password, like in the trenches of WWII, like to get into a speakeasy, or for a high-five between spies, or when we were kids in tree houses.

    That “dude” is mega-established as cool is not moot; whether it is to be coolly applied to friend (as once “brother” was among us) or foe (as in “you’re on a slippery slope, dude”), is. Context herein would seem to suggest the latter, but usage, according to research into it, is sloppy.

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  53. @OTNT_Believer:

    In all of these cases you refer to the DNA divergences or similarities were not used to define these taxa. In each case the biological species concept was employed.

    “The biological species concept defines a species as members of populations that actually or potentially interbreed in nature, not according to similarity of appearance. Although appearance is helpful in identifying species, it does not define species.”

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/VA1BioSpeciesConcept.shtml

    The problem with this “biological definition” of species is that it is based on reproductive isolation – a feature that is not universally applied. Great Danes and Chihuahuas are arguably “reproductively isolated” yet are still classified within the same species group. Also, when it comes to “cryptic species” the isolating factor may be geographic rather than genetic. Functionally and phenotypically speaking, certain cryptic species would be indistinguishable. They would also be able to mate and produce both viable and fertile offspring.

    So, it is very hard to argue that cryptic species would be easily identifiable as “species” without knowledge as to their separate geographic distribution and underlying functionally-neutral genetic divergence.

    I have no problem with your functional difference ideas, I just disagree on your use of such ideas. We have a well functioning definition of species used by mainstream taxonomists, and trying to replace it with another equally problematic species concept that is used by no one else but a few creationists just further marginalizes any potential for discussion with mainstream taxonomists.

    I think it rather difficult to marginalize creationists or design theorists further than they’ve already been marginalized by mainstream scientists. There is a deep seated fundamental disagreement over the creative potential and limits of RM/NS. Until this basic dividing line is crossed, there will be no general agreement over differing concepts as to either the origin or basic dividing lines between different “kinds” of living things.

    i think I understand the point you are trying to make with functional difference being the dividing line between “created types” and variation within a created type. This is essentially the point that [B]rand is making with his term megaevolution. So why not at least work within the framework of what other creationinists already have defined? Even Behe and Demski have defined these kinds of boundaries, basing them on irreducible comlexity arguments.

    The reason I don’t like the general use of the term “macroevolution” is because it is used to include what Brand and other creationists and IDists would describe as requiring the outside input of Intelligent Design. Macroevolution is not generally qualified as to type. That is why I’m trying to get people to actually qualify what they mean, specifically, when they use the term “macroevolution”… especially in the context of a discussion over the potential and limits of evolutionary progress.

    You may not like the biological species concept, but just tossing it out and substituting it with a functional difference requirement only adds a different problem, and since no one else uses this definition of species, you have no common ground for discussion. According to you reasoning Darwin’s finches are not separate species at all and in fact are conspecific with other members of the “domed-nest clade.”

    They aren’t clearly part of a separate gene pool from other members of the “domed-nest clade”. In other words, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Darwin Finches could interbreed and produce viable and fertile offspring with other members of this clade.

    So, when someone like you comes along and argues that Darwin’s Finches are so dramatically different from everything else that they are difficult to explain over the course of a few thousand years, I have to scratch my head and wonder as to the reason for such an assertion?

    It seems so much more resonable to consider Darwin’s Finches as simply separate species, as recognized by all taxonomists, and as an example of macroevolution, as defined by evolutionary theory. Then, ala Brand, consider birds and reptiles as separate classes (or even part of the same monophyletic group) and as an example of megaevolution. This makes it then a lot easier for me as a creationist to say that I accept the more limited definition of macroevolution that formed the different kinds of domed-nest builders, but reject the megaevolutionary process proposed to have been the mechanism whereby birds evolved from reptilian ancestors.

    It makes it even easier to explain, specifically, why one believes that there are obvious creative limitations to the RM/NS mechanism. If you can’t do this, it really makes no sense for you or me or anyone else to argue that various forms of “macroevolution” are possible, but not “megaevolution”. If you don’t know why there should be such a distinction, you really don’t have much of an argument…

    Of course, for me personally, I haven’t yet figured out where the lines should be drawn between macro- and megaevolution. I certainly don’t think birds evolved from reptiles, so that is megaevolution, but what about hummingbirds vs. sunbirds?

    If you haven’t figured out where the lines should be drawn, or why they should be drawn at all, upon what do you base your belief that such a line probably exists?

    I think a line exists because I think I know the statistical cut-off point beyond which RM/NS becomes completely untenable this side of a practical eternity of time. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a rational reason to propose any kind of limitation for evolutionary potential…

    I think there is enough work to be done using these more compatible concepts, so can’t we just use them and quit quibbling over what a species is and leave that to taxonomists?

    These “quibbles” will end up changing the basis of taxonomy if basic concepts such as “irreducible complexity” and limits to evolutionary progress based on “levels of functional complexity” are ever accepted by mainstream scientists…

    These quibbles also help to clarify what one means when one uses words like “macroevolution” – a word that is often used, by mainstream scientists, to cover everything from neutral genetic differences (evolved due to geographic isolation in certain groups within the same functional gene pool) to the functional differences between reptiles and birds…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  54. @Sean

    If you haven’t figured out where the lines should be drawn, or why they should be drawn at all, upon what do you base your belief that such a line probably exists?
    I think a line exists because I think I know the statistical cut-off point beyond which RM/NS becomes completely untenable this side of a practical eternity of time. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a rational reason to propose any kind of limitation for evolutionary potential…

    I think you missed my point! I agree with you, I just don’t agree with developing a totally new set of terms to describe what I believe is going on when the existing terms, with some degree of tweaking, will work just fine.

    We have the terms right now. Microevolution is changes below the species level. macroevolution, in standard terms represents changes above that level. In creatoionist terms, macroevolution would represent changes from the origin of species to something short of true, novel, functionally different taxa (or “created kinds” as many creationists describe such). Megaevolution (and this is the tweak advocated by some creationists) represents those changes that introduce funcrionally, unique, new taxa and beyond.

    Now, as a creationist, I believe that megaevolution is not possible. I believe macroevolution, as modified above, works fine. Even evolutionists distinguish between macro- and megaevolution, they just have not bothered to give it a term. I think that is partly due to the fact that there is really a continuum involved, and drawing the line betweem macro and mega is a tough one. Your theoretical description in another message above is fine but like the biological species concept, which you want to replace, it is extremely difficult to see how it can be applied in practice, especially considering the fact that the proteome for even one eukaryote has yet to be fully determined.

    All I am asking is that you consider using language that at least most of us who know something about biology already understand. Why make up new terms for something if it is no better than what it is replacing, and is confusing to boot? And as for Darwin’s finches, your proposal to include them as conspecific with other domed-nesting birds would get you laughed out of any group of taxonomists. What good is a definition like yours if it has nothing to do with morphology, or even with the ability to interbreed. You can say you think they would easily interbreed, but on what basis? There are cryptic species of fruit flies that don’t interbreed, even though morphologically we can’t tell them apart.

    And I also wish you would quit harping about the deficiencies of the current taxonomic use of the species concept. Of course different criteria are used in different cases and you won’t find an evolutionist or taxonomist alive that doesn’t recognize the deficientcies in the current concept. So what! Taxonomists still use it because it is the best we have, and yours, in practice is actually worse, because short of a thorough proteomic comparison among all the taxa of interest, how will you ever know where to draw the lines? And considering the argument you are making, it must be a proteomic comparison, as a genomic comparison only tells part of the story. Now that we have become more acquainted with the RNome we know that it exerts a vast amount of control over what types of polypeptides are produced.

    Maybe when we get better at the types of molecular analyses necessary your concept would be ready to be used, but even then, I think it would be better used to separate macro from mega, rather than as a species concept. Whether you like it or not, the current species concept is extremely useful in many practical ways, even though defining what is a species is sometimes a little arbitrary. In better than 90% of cases there is universal agreement about where the lines should be drawn, so why toss out something that works so well. Even should your approach someday be adopted, the things we now call species will still need to be recognized some way. Subspecies maybe, varieties? So in the long run it’s really about semantics, and bucking the current system hardly seems fruitful.

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  55. Sean, it appears to me that your definition of a species is more applicable to the Genesis “kind” which, as I recall, was termed a “baramin” by Frank Marsh. Maybe you should use that term instead?

    Despite its limitations, the biological species concept works just fine with most vertebrate taxa. There are very many similar or extremely similar taxa that live together in sympatry but never, rarely or occasionally interbreed, demonstrating that they are discrete biological entities–what biologists refer to as species by virtually any definition. If they’re not species, what else would you call them? Maybe your definition is more akin to a genus–which is a subjective taxonomic level although there have been attempts to apply biologically meaningful definitions.

    The mere ability to interbreed does NOT define a biological species. A good biological species is not necessarily completely reproductively isolated from other populations. The best criterion is free or random interbreeding among individuals. Occasional interbreeding with another taxon does not mean that they are freely interbreeding. Mallards have hybridized with many different species of ducks, especially in captivity when their choices are limited, but Mallards generally prefer to breed with their own species. Hybrids with other species occur in the wild, but they are relatively rare.

    The study of mate choice among two similar taxa living in sympatry (ranges broadly overlapping) or in parapatry (ranges narrowly overlapping) can infer whether they are freely interbreeding. If they randomly mate with either phenotype the populations eventually become intermediate and any phenotypic differences between the two populations disappear. If, on the other hand, most individuals mate assortatively with their own phenotype, the differences between the two taxa are maintained even if some individuals interbreed and produce intermediate offspring. Typically the intermediates are less fit than either parental phenotype, but exceptions (“hybrid vigor”) have been documented in some well documented cases of hybridization. Most wild Mallards look very similar to each other. Ditto with most American Black Ducks, Gadwalls, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and other species of waterfowl with which they occasionally hybridize. They are all distinct taxonomic units–what we call species, not subspecies or races or varieties of a single species. If they were freely interbreeding those distinctions between the different taxa would eventually disappear.

    As for Darwin’s finches, several taxa breed sympatry on each of the larger islands. Although some individuals may interbreed with another taxon, the majority of individuals mate assortatively with their own phenotype, resulting in distinct taxonomic units that are recognized as biological species. They exhibit essential rather than complete reproductive isolation. They are different biological species even though some interbreeding occurs. If they were freely interbreeding with each other on the same island, only one phenotype would be present–but clearly that is not the case. Character displacement is well documented among finches on the islands, as evidenced by less overlap in phenotypic traits between two taxa occurring in sympatry (same island) than between the same two taxa occurring in allopatry (different islands). Clearly a reproductive isolating mechanism of some sort has “evolved” (pardon my science lingo). And a reproductive isolating mechanism could potentially be coded by as few as ONE gene. Speciation–aka macroevolution–can be a relatively simple process. It’s not the same as megaevolution, which I think is what your concept of functional complexity is referring to.

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  56. We need to get something straight.

    For creationists, “macroevolution” means “evolution which we object to on theological grounds”, and “microevolution” means “evolution we either cannot deny, or which is acceptable on theological grounds.”

    To 99.99% of practicing biologists, “macroevolution” includes the origin of new species and any taxa at higher levels. It’s perfectly okay for young earth creationists and even the most conservative Seventh-day Adventists (the honest ones, that is) to concede that “macroevolution” certainly occurs at the level of speciation–and probably at higher levels as well (including entire genera and families, for example, that are entirely venomous). Please folks, I implore that we not become Seventh-day Humpty Dumptys. As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice:

    “There’s glory for you!”
    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” – from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass

    Surely we can be honest…

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  57. @OTNT_Believer:

    I think you missed my point! I agree with you, I just don’t agree with developing a totally new set of terms to describe what I believe is going on when the existing terms, with some degree of tweaking, will work just fine.

    While we both agree that there are limitations to the evolutionary mechanism, we don’t seem to agree when it comes to the clarity of the “species” concept – and therefore of the “macroevolution” concept. This is why Brand says that he believes that “some forms” of “macroevolution” are possible. It is important that he use the qualifying phrase “some forms” when he talks about macroevolution because, without this qualifying phrase, the term “macroevolution” is too ill-defined to be very useful in a discussion of the potential and limits of the evolutionary mechanism.

    Again, I never said that one shouldn’t use the terms “macroevolution” or “species” from the creationist perspective. What I said is that one should not use these terms without qualification. One must define the limits of “macroevolution” and upon what, exactly, these proposed limits are based in a discussion of the proposed potential and/or limits of evolutionary mechanisms.

    Now, as a creationist, I believe that megaevolution is not possible. I believe macroevolution, as modified above, works fine.

    It all depends upon what you mean by the term “megaevolution”. If you mean that it is impossible for RM/NS to generate novel systems of function regardless of the level of functional complexity under consideration, then you’d be wrong. The evolution of truly novel functional systems is not only possible, but is commonly demonstrated in real time. It is just that all of these examples are at a very low level of functional complexity…

    So, again, one must be more precise in exactly where the line should be drawn between different biblical “kinds” of gene pools.

    Your theoretical description in another message above is fine but like the biological species concept, which you want to replace, it is extremely difficult to see how it can be applied in practice, especially considering the fact that the proteome for even one eukaryote has yet to be fully determined.

    I never said that it would always be easy to clearly determine a unique uncrossable barrier between gene pools of different “kinds” of living things. A great deal more information than we currently have available would be needed in many cases. However, it is important to have the basis for approaching such a determination in place. Otherwise, there really is no basis upon which to even look to make such a determination – even if it ever did become possible, much less practical, beyond a theoretical proposal.

    And as for Darwin’s finches, your proposal to include them as conspecific with other domed-nesting birds would get you laughed out of any group of taxonomists. What good is a definition like yours if it has nothing to do with morphology, or even with the ability to interbreed? You can say you think they would easily interbreed, but on what basis? There are cryptic species of fruit flies that don’t interbreed, even though morphologically we can’t tell them apart.

    The biological species concept is not based on similarity of appearance. Although appearance may be helpful in identifying species, it does not define a species – even according to mainstream taxonomists.

    There is a difference between species that don’t interbreed vs. those that can’t interbreed to produce viable offspring. There are many reasons why certain groups of animals don’t interbreed in the wild that have nothing to do with their potential to interbreed to produce viable offspring.

    This potential to interbreed is a very important clue in determining the possibility of being part of an original ancestral gene pool within recent history – especially given a lack of a complete protenome for a given type of organism (as you’ve already pointed out).

    You won’t find an evolutionist or taxonomist alive that doesn’t recognize the deficientcies in the current concept. So what! Taxonomists still use it because it is the best we have, and yours, in practice is actually worse, because short of a thorough proteomic comparison among all the taxa of interest, how will you ever know where to draw the lines? And considering the argument you are making, it must be a proteomic comparison, as a genomic comparison only tells part of the story. Now that we have become more acquainted with the RNome we know that it exerts a vast amount of control over what types of polypeptides are produced.

    This is absolutely true! I’m not suggesting that my system is easily applied. It isn’t. It is based on a sound theory that has excellent predictive value given a known set of data. However, obtaining the data itself will no doubt be quite challenging. At the current time, my system is much more easily applied to simpler systems for which much more detailed information regarding the gene pool/protein pool is actually known (like E. coli).

    However, the lack of detailed information regarding the entire gene pool or protein pools for higher level organisms does not mean that the function-based concept is therefore useless. Whenever higher level functional differences between gene pools are discovered, the functional concept can be used to propose the inadequacy of the RM/NS mechanism to explain such differences.

    Maybe when we get better at the types of molecular analyses necessary your concept would be ready to be used, but even then, I think it would be better used to separate macro from mega, rather than as a species concept.

    Maybe current species concepts would still have some utility given such advanced knowledge, but probably not much. Certainly at the current time the species concept is generally useful, but it still needs to be qualified in discussions like this one concerning the potential and limits of evolutionary progress over a given span of time.

    The only real disagreement I have with you (beyond your comments on the dating of Egyptian dynasties) is over your assertion that certain species, like Darwin’s Finches, are so clearly unique from all other species that they cannot be rationally explained as being reproductively isolated over a period of just a few thousand years. I think you’re overreaching in this particular assertion of yours. As far as I can tell, you haven’t demonstrated the need for significantly longer periods of time to explain the seemingly minor genetic differences (most of which seem to be non-functional) between different members of the “domed nest clade”.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  58. Sean, it appears to me that your definition of a species is more applicable to the Genesis “kind” which, as I recall, was termed a “baramin” by Frank Marsh. Maybe you should use that term instead?

    Despite its limitations, the biological species concept works just fine with most vertebrate taxa. There are very many similar or extremely similar taxa that live together in sympatry but never, rarely or occasionally interbreed, demonstrating that they are discrete biological entities–what biologists refer to as species by virtually any definition. If they’re not species, what else would you call them? Maybe your definition is more akin to a genus–which is a subjective taxonomic level although there have been attempts to apply biologically meaningful definitions.

    The mere ability to interbreed does NOT define a biological species. A good biological species is not necessarily completely reproductively isolated from other populations. The best criterion is free or random interbreeding among individuals. Occasional interbreeding with another taxon does not mean that they are freely interbreeding. Mallards have hybridized with many different species of ducks, especially in captivity when their choices are limited, but Mallards generally prefer to breed with their own species. Hybrids with other species occur in the wild, but they are relatively rare.

    The study of mate choice among two similar taxa living in sympatry (ranges broadly overlapping) or in parapatry (ranges narrowly overlapping) can infer whether they are freely interbreeding. If they randomly mate with either phenotype the populations eventually become intermediate and any phenotypic differences between the two populations disappear. If, on the other hand, most individuals mate assortatively with their own phenotype, the differences between the two taxa are maintained even if some individuals interbreed and produce intermediate offspring. Typically the intermediates are less fit than either parental phenotype, but exceptions (“hybrid vigor”) have been documented in some well documented cases of hybridization. Most wild Mallards look very similar to each other. Ditto with most American Black Ducks, Gadwalls, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and other species of waterfowl with which they occasionally hybridize. They are all distinct taxonomic units–what we call species, not subspecies or races or varieties of a single species. If they were freely interbreeding those distinctions between the different taxa would eventually disappear.

    As for Darwin’s finches, several taxa breed sympatry on each of the larger islands. Although some individuals may interbreed with another taxon, the majority of individuals mate assortatively with their own phenotype, resulting in distinct taxonomic units that are recognized as biological species. They exhibit essential rather than complete reproductive isolation. They are different biological species even though some interbreeding occurs. If they were freely interbreeding with each other on the same island, only one phenotype would be present–but clearly that is not the case. Character displacement is well documented among finches on the islands, as evidenced by less overlap in phenotypic traits between two taxa occurring in sympatry (same island) than between the same two taxa occurring in allopatry (different islands). Clearly a reproductive isolating mechanism of some sort has “evolved” (pardon my science lingo). And a reproductive isolating mechanism could potentially be coded by as few as ONE gene. Speciation–aka macroevolution–can be a relatively simple process. It’s not the same as megaevolution, which I think is what your concept of functional complexity is referring to.

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  59. Just to clarify, the term “megaevolution” has been proposed and used by evolutionists sporadically, as early as 1944 by George Gaylord Simpson. However, it is not a well-established term in current science vernacular.

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  60. We need to get something straight.

    For creationists, “macroevolution” means “evolution which we object to on theological grounds”, and “microevolution” means “evolution we either cannot deny, or which is acceptable on theological grounds.”

    To 99.99% of practicing biologists, “macroevolution” includes the origin of new species and any taxa at higher levels. It’s perfectly okay for young earth creationists and even the most conservative Seventh-day Adventists (the honest ones, that is) to concede that “macroevolution” certainly occurs at the level of speciation–and probably at higher levels as well (including entire genera and families, for example, that are entirely venomous). Please folks, I implore that we not become Seventh-day Humpty Dumptys. As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice:

    “There’s glory for you!”
    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” – from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass

    Surely we can be honest…

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  61. @Eddie:

    Despite its limitations, the biological species concept works just fine with most vertebrate taxa.

    I agree. The biological concept of isolated or largely isolated breeding pools certainly has some utility. However, when the topic at hand is specifically concerned with the potential and limits of the mechanism of RM/NS to produce changes over time, the concept of “species” is not an adequate measure of either the potential or limits of RM/NS.

    There are very many similar or extremely similar taxa that live together in sympatry but never, rarely or occasionally interbreed, demonstrating that they are discrete biological entities–what biologists refer to as species by virtually any definition. If they’re not species, what else would you call them? Maybe your definition is more akin to a genus–which is a subjective taxonomic level although there have been attempts to apply biologically meaningful definitions.

    The demonstration of a discrete biological entity is one thing. The demonstration that this discrete entity has evolved something functionally unique that was not already present in the ancestral gene pool is quite another – certainly when it comes to the evolution of higher levels of novel functional complexity.

    Discrete entities can therefore evolve. If you want to define these discrete entities as “species” and their evolution as “macroevoltuion” that’s fine. Just qualify what you mean when you use the term “macroevolution” in conversations about the potential and limits of RM/NS since many use this term to refer to non-functional as well as high-level functional differences between various gene pools.

    The mere ability to interbreed does NOT define a biological species. A good biological species is not necessarily completely reproductively isolated from other populations. The best criterion is free or random interbreeding among individuals. Occasional interbreeding with another taxon does not mean that they are freely interbreeding. Mallards have hybridized with many different species of ducks, especially in captivity when their choices are limited, but Mallards generally prefer to breed with their own species. Hybrids with other species occur in the wild, but they are relatively rare.

    The same is true for many human ethnic groups which are free to “randomly” interbreed with other ethnic groups, but tend to prefer their “own” group. The same is also true for various breeds of dogs, cats, chickens, etc. Many of these breeds actually prefer to mate with their own particular breed. Yet, even when interbreeding is significantly or entirely limited (as between a chihuahua and a Great Dane), the different breeds or ethnic groups are still given the very same species classification.

    Again, all that the potential to interbreed and produce viable offspring really means is that the two gene pools are essentially the same when it comes to the basic types of functional options available. The lack of the ability to produce viable offspring is a good clue to the probable lack of functional compatibility between the genomes of two organisms. Depending upon the level of functional complexity that makes up the functional difference between two gene pools the mechanism of RM/NS may or may not be able to reasonably account for the functional differences within a given span of time.

    If you want to call higher level functional evolution “megaevolution”, that’s fine. It is just that this term is not well defined in mainstream literature. This means that in conversations like this one, over the potential and limits of RM/NS, you need to define your terms up-front because terms like “species” or “macroevolution” or “megaevolution” are not defined with any kind of limitation to RM/NS in mind in mainstream literature… which is a problem.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  62. @Sean:

    The same is true for many human ethnic groups which are free to “randomly” interbreed with other ethnic groups, but tend to prefer their “own” group.

    Some have used assortative mating among human races as a pretext for subdividing humanity into different species. However, humans mate assortatively not only by race but by language, culture, religion, nationality, economic status, educational level, personality traits, hobbies, political views, moral values, music genres, computer games, cell phone providers, etc. Furthermore, there has been a marked decline in assortative mating during the last several generations as social equality–including racial equality–has become embraced and legislated by some modern western societies which have become increasingly cosmopolitan due to their immigration policies. Social equality tends to break down the barriers which divide us. We’re all the same species!

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  63. @Eddie:

    Social equality tends to break down the barriers which divide us. We’re all the same species!

    Not always true. The fact remains that certain groups of humans, regardless of anything else, are simply more physically attracted to their own ethnic group than to various other ethnic groups – regardless of social equality between groups. They just like to mate within their own group. It seems like in certain cases the same thing is true for various kinds of animals – especially when it comes to “cryptic species”.

    So, if you want to be consistent…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  64. Historical isolation resulted in the different races of humans via a process very similar to allopatric speciation in animals.

    When differentiated populations come into contact and begin to interbreed, two factors are readily used to examine whether these populations have evolved sufficiently to become distinct species: (1) the degree of introgression (non-assortative mating) and (2) whether barriers rapidly evolve to reduce or prevent introgression.

    There is no lack of data for humans. In contrast to many differentiated animal populations recognized as distinct species, contemporary Homo sapiens is NOT comprised of multiple species, no matter how staunchly one tries to argue the point. This debate is becoming absurd.

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  65. @Professor Kent:

    Historical isolation resulted in the different races of humans via a process very similar to allopatric speciation in animals.

    Ok…

    When differentiated populations come into contact and begin to interbreed, two factors are readily used to examine whether these populations have evolved sufficiently to become distinct species: (1) the degree of introgression (non-assortative mating) and (2) whether barriers rapidly evolve to reduce or prevent introgression.

    And where are such barriers for various cryptic species for which there is no readily apparent phenotype block to mating with the production of viable and fertile offspring?

    There is no lack of data for humans. In contrast to many differentiated animal populations recognized as distinct species, contemporary Homo sapiens is NOT comprised of multiple species, no matter how staunchly one tries to argue the point. This debate is becoming absurd.

    And how are various human ethnic groups distinctly different from certain groups of animals that are classified as “cryptic species” which arguably have less phenotypic variability than between various human ethnic groups?

    Don’t tell me that there is no subjectivity at play here…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  66. @Sean:

    And where are such barriers for various cryptic species for which there is no readily apparent phenotype block to mating with the production of viable and fertile offspring?

    For the benefit of those who perhaps are confused by the subject matter, cryptic species refer to two or more species that closely resemble each other to human eyes yet somehow recognize each other as distinct species. They may occur in sympatry (living together), parapatry (narrowly overlapping in range) or allopatry (geogrpahically separated). They never or seldom interbreed because some sort of a reproductive isolating mechanism other than external morphological appearance has “evolved” (if I can use that term here).

    I earlier mentioned a classic example, the Alder Flycatcher and Willow Flycatcher, which occur sympatrically in northeastern North America and are virtually identical yet differ in their vocalizations. The distinctive vocalizations of each species represent a behavioral reproductive isolating mechanism that prevents an individual from mating with the wrong species. Many similar examples exist among birds.

    Another classic example that I earlier mentioned is the Eastern Gray Tree Frog and Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, which are essentially identical but differ in their number of chromosomes, 48 in the former and 24 in the latter (providing a rare example of polyploidy among animals). Although sympatric throughout much of their ranges, they cannot hybridize because of the different numbers of chromosomes. They can recognize each other through their distinctive vocalizations, which represent a behavioral reproductive isolating mechanism.

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  67. @ Sean Pitman

    And how are various human ethnic groups distinctly different from certain groups of animals that are classified as “cryptic species” which arguably have less phenotypic variability than between various human ethnic groups?

    Surely you’ve watched “The Dating Game.” I think you’d “get it” if only Animal Planet would host an animal version of this game.

    As Eddie has pointed out, the animals themselves perceive differences that are not so readily apparent to us, so the term “cryptic” is applied in a strictly anthropocentric sense.

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  68. @Eddie:

    And where are such barriers for various cryptic species for which there is no readily apparent phenotype block to mating with the production of viable and fertile offspring? – Sean Pitman

    For the benefit of those who perhaps are confused by the subject matter, cryptic species refer to two or more species that closely resemble each other to human eyes yet somehow recognize each other as distinct species. They may occur in sympatry (living together), parapatry (narrowly overlapping in range) or allopatry (geogrpahically separated). They never or seldom interbreed because some sort of a reproductive isolating mechanism other than external morphological appearance has “evolved” (if I can use that term here).

    Obviously, but how fundamentally important are these non-morphologic differences vs. those morphologic and non-morphologic differences that are very evident in different breeds of dogs or cats or even different ethnic groups of humans? – who also preferentially “breed” within their own particular groups?

    I earlier mentioned a classic example, the Alder Flycatcher and Willow Flycatcher, which occur sympatrically in northeastern North America and are virtually identical yet differ in their vocalizations. The distinctive vocalizations of each species represent a behavioral reproductive isolating mechanism that prevents an individual from mating with the wrong species. Many similar examples exist among birds.

    So there are birds who prefer to mate with other birds who have a more “attractive” song? – a song that matches their own particular preference? How is this somehow a basis for species classification whereas more striking differences between human ethnic groups, to include mating preferences, are not?

    I think you’re simply demonstrating the arbitrary aspects of taxonomy quite nicely… to include its political implications.

    Another classic example that I earlier mentioned is the Eastern Gray Tree Frog and Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, which are essentially identical but differ in their number of chromosomes, 48 in the former and 24 in the latter (providing a rare example of polyploidy among animals). Although sympatric throughout much of their ranges, they cannot hybridize because of the different numbers of chromosomes. They can recognize each other through their distinctive vocalizations, which represent a behavioral reproductive isolating mechanism.

    This argument is clearly mistaken. Differences in chromosome number does not, by itself, prevent successful breeding or the production of viable and fertile offspring. Also, as I’ve already noted above, variations in chromosome numbers is not all that “rare” among animals.

    For example, hybrids of the wild horse (33 pairs) and the domesticated horse (32 pairs) are both viable and fertile, and yet they have an odd chromosome out, just like mules do. Also, foxes have a varied number from 38-78 chromosomes yet can all mate to produce viable and fertile offspring. Yet another example is the 40+ Robertsonian “races” of Mus musculus domesticus found in Europe and North Africa which have chromosome numbers ranging from 22-40. Yet, the number of chromosome arms are the same and banding studies reveal the genes to be homologous. In other words, the information is the same. Another example of a Robertsonian polymorphism is the house musk shrew that lives in the central region of West Malaysia and has a variation in chromosome numbers from 36 to 40. Also, in Southern India and Sri Lanka musk shrews can be found with having between 30 and 32 chromosomes due to Robertsonian-type changes.

    The significance of centric fusions (Robertsonian translocations) in domestic animals, with special reference to sheep, is also interesting. A study was done that considered 856 ewes with either a normal chromosome number 2n = 54 or carrying one or more of the three different translocations (centric fusions) t1, t2 and t3 in various heterozygous and homozygous arrangements. Rams, which were used in the matings, were homozygous for one of the translocation chromosomes (2n = 52), double heterozygotes (2n = 52), triple heterozygotes (2n = 51), or were carriers of four translocation chromosomes (2n = 50) and five translocation chromosomes (2n = 49). A remarkably even distribution of segregation products was recorded in the progeny of all combinations of translocation ewes plus translocation rams in those groups in which sufficient animals were available for statistical analysis. Forty-eight chromosomally different groups of animals were mated. Further, the overall fertility of the translocation sheep (measured by conception rate to first service via the lambing percentage and number of ewes that did not breed a lamb) was not significantly different from the New Zealand national sheep breeding data where this study was done. In some groups the poorer reproductive performance could be explained by the age structure of the flock and inbreeding depression, which probably affected the performance of some animals. Sheep with progressively decreasing chromosome numbers, due to centric fusion, 2n = 50, 2n = 49 and 2n = 48, were reported. The 2n = 48 category represents a triple homozygous ewe and a triple homozygous ram and is the first report of the viable evolution of such domestic animals. Less than 1% of phenotypically abnormal lambs were recorded in a total of 1,995 progeny born over 10 years. It is now considered that there is little or no evidence to suggest that centric fusions in a variety of combinations affect the total productive fitness of domestic sheep.

    Bruere AN, Ellis PM., Cytogenetics and reproduction of sheep with multiple centric fusions (Robertsonian translocations). J Reprod Fertil 1979 Nov;57(2):363-75. (http://bison.zbs.bialowieza.pl/isacc/suncus/srihtm.htm)

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  69. @Sean:

    So there are birds who prefer to mate with other birds who have a more “attractive” song? – a song that matches their own particular preference? How is this somehow a basis for species classification whereas more striking differences between human ethnic groups, to include mating preferences, are not?

    Song is a reproductive isolating mechanism for many species of birds. Reciprocal playback experiments demonstrate that birds strongly prefer to mate with their own song type. If they don’t want to mate with each other they are reproductively isolated–which is the criterion of the biological species concept. There have been reports of hybrid Alder X Willow Flycatchers but apparently none have been confirmed.

    As for humans, numerous studies have demonstrated that genetic variation among human populations is lower than that of most animal species. The genetic evidence indicates that there has never been strong racial differentiation among humans, at least in comparison with that of many non-human animals. A good review of this can be found here:

    Tample, A. R. 2002. The genetic and evolutionary significance of human races. Pp. 31-56 in Race and Intelligence: Separating Science from Myth (J. M. Fish, ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Mahwah, NJ.

    I suppose there is the potential for speciation in humans to occur as a consequence of assortative mating among racial or ethnic groups, but considerable interbreeding has historically occurred wherever and whenever different racial or ethnic groups lived together, unless it was prevented by culture, which has a strong influence (e.g., miscegenation laws preventing interracial marriage weren’t abolished in the USA until 1967). Maybe assortative mating is based more on culture than biology. Several studies have demonstrated that the degree of assortative mating based on racial or ethnic groups has declined over the past several decades, which is more suggestive of culture than biology. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, assortative mating among humans is extremely complex, occurring for both biological and culture factors. Assortative mating occurs for several biological traits besides skin, hair and eye color/texture which we often associate with race and ethnicity, including height, weight and (especially) age.

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  70. @Sean:

    Certain types of birds are certainly notoriously picky about choosing a mate – that’s a given. The choice can hinge on extremely minor differences in appearance or song or even nest building skills. Yet, at the same time, far more striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences, between various breeds of dogs or even between different human ethnic groups which have been established via some span of reproductive isolation are not classified as different “species”? Why not?

    The “striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences” among different populations of humans and dogs are the results of random mutation, genetic drift, natural selection or (in the case of dogs) artificial selection–not “some span of reproductive isolation.” Humans don’t depend on the color or texture of eyes, hair and skin to avoid mating with chimps or apes, or even different groups of humans. When a female poodle is in heat, it doesn’t matter what “breed” a male dog belongs to, it is equally stimulated and could care less about the length, color or texture of eyes, hair, ears, snout, legs, tail, etc. The reproductive isolating method between dogs (genus Canis) and foxes (genus Vulpes) is likely based on olfaction rather than external morphology.

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  71. @Eddie:

    Song is a reproductive isolating mechanism for many species of birds. Reciprocal playback experiments demonstrate that birds strongly prefer to mate with their own song type. If they don’t want to mate with each other they are reproductively isolated–which is the criterion of the biological species concept.

    That’s my point. The “biological species concept” can be based on something as minor as a bird’s preference for the song of another bird… without any other distinguishing features that would prevent successful mating or the production of viable and fertile offspring. Certain types of birds are certainly notoriously picky about choosing a mate – that’s a given. The choice can hinge on extremely minor differences in appearance or song or even nest building skills. Yet, at the same time, far more striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences, between various breeds of dogs or even between different human ethnic groups which have been established via some span of reproductive isolation are not classified as different “species”? Why not? – even though some of these phenotypic differences do in fact influence mating selection (animals and humans are simply biased to mate with those who are most similar – as a rule of thumb)?

    I’m sorry, but there seems to me to be more than a bit of subjectivity involved in who is and who is not given taxonomic status as a unique “species” due to reproductive isolation. Even your argument on the use of differences in chromosome number between different groups of animals is not a consistent marker of unique “species”.

    You do realize that some fertile humans have different chromosome numbers than the usual 46? – right? – due to Robertsonian translocations? Should they therefore be classified as a different “species”? In fact, human chromosome #2 has been fused during some population bottleneck. It used to be two separate chromosomes. In other words, humans originally had 48 chromosomes. Did this fusion event create a “new species” of humans?

    Hint: It isn’t the extra chromosome that makes apes functionally unique from humans. It is the unique information coded by all the chromosomes (largely found in the “non-coding” regions of the genome) that produces the key functional differences and is responsible for the inability of viable hybridization between humans and apes…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  72. @Sean

    I’m sorry, but there seems to me to be more than a bit of subjectivity involved in who is and who is not given taxonomic status as a unique “species” due to reproductive isolation. Even your argument on the use of differences in chromosome number between different groups of animals is not a consistent marker of unique “species”.

    And the fact that taxonomists use a b it of subjectivity is a new revelation? Come on Sean, you are nitpicking. Of course there is some subjectivity. There is no completely objective criterion for defining species. It’s sort of like saying there is an objective way to determine good writing from bad writing. We rely upon experts who know the organismns involved to decide what is and is not a species. That’s what taxonomists do. As soon as you find an objective method for defining species that can be practically applied, then by all means, publish it. I am sure there are a lot of taxonomists who would love you for it.

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  73. @OTNT_Believer:

    And the fact that taxonomists use a b it of subjectivity is a new revelation? Come on Sean, you are nitpicking. Of course there is some subjectivity.

    Hey, I’m not the one who came out and said that the differences between Darwin Finches and all other birds were so dramatic and clear cut and objectively understood that they could not be reasonably explained in just a few thousand years… or that the Egyptian dynasties are definitively known to go back over 6,000 years (when they probably go back no more than 4,500 years)…

    A “bit” of subjectivity involved here? – no?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  74. Hey, I’m not the one who came out and said that the differences between Darwin Finches and all other birds were so dramatic and clear cut and objectively understood that they could not be reasonably explained in just a few thousand years… or that the Egyptian dynasties are definitively known to go back over 6,000 years (when they probably go back no more than 4,500 years)…

    A “bit” of subjectivity involved here? – no?

    A bit of ad hominem here perhaps? A bit uncalled for I think, especially since it doesn’t even address my comment. And must you keep harping on the one statement on Darwin’s finches that few other than yourself and maybe some other creationists disagree with? Maybe Darwin’s finches are one of God’s kinds, which is my point in making the time reference. If they can’t evolve in a few thousand years, then they must have been created that way.

    As for the Egyptian Dynasties, I am no expert, but all tyhe standard references on the subject give ranges for the 1st Dynasty as somewhere in the vicinity of 3000-2600 BC, which if I do my math correctly puts us at about 4600-5000 years ago. And this is a full-blown civilization. Even if we assume the flood happened 5000 years ago, that hardly gives time for a full-blown civilization to form, not to speak of the couple thousand years of evidence for the build-up of said civilization. Either the older evidence somehow miraculously survived the flood, or Egypt was not destroyed by the flood. Or, as you seem to suggest, the dates are all wrong. There sure are a lot of people wrong and you are always right.

    By the way, the 3000-2600 BC reference is from http://books.google.com/books?id=lF78Max-h8MC Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs By James P. Allen, 2010, p. 10

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  75. @Sean

    As far as your arguments for the date of the first Egyptian dynasty being preceded by over a thousand years of cultural development, it simply doesn’t take very long for groups of humans to develop complex cultures and governments. Also, there are those who argue that the date for the first dynasty is more likely to be less than 4,500 years ago. Either way, the dating of Egyptian dynasties is hardly a very solid basis for challenging the historical SDA position on origins…

    It’s not just Egyptian Dynasty dates that are problematic, How about other Middle Eastern dates. For example, the Madaba Plains project in which Andrews University participates gives dates for human habitation that extend well back before 2500 BC, i.e. before the flood. How did these remains survive the flood?

    Here is a quote from the Madaba Plains Web Site about Umayri:

    “Tall al-`Umayri contains many chapters in its story, representing a span of 5,000 years of human life and survival in the area of central Jordan. What follows is the story of `Umayri’s tell formation and discoveries made while taking it apart.

    Early Bronze Age, ca. 3000 BC:

    At some point near 3000 BC inhabitants from around `Umayri constructed a megalithic dolmen, a large stone memorial.

    Early Bronze Age, ca.2500 BC:

    This is the earliest major settlement of `Umayri, developed around 2500 BC, which covered most of the site and had no fortification walls.”

    Source for the above is: http://www.madabaplains.org/umayri-old/story/story.html

    There are also numerous cuneiform tablets dating from more than 1000 years pre-flood. How did these survive?

    If you are going to accept the worldwide flood on evidence rather than faith, you need to deal with these kinds of evidence. These data and more from archaeoilogy just don’t fit a worldwide flood model dated to circa 2500 BC.

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  76. @Sean:

    Certain types of birds are certainly notoriously picky about choosing a mate – that’s a given. The choice can hinge on extremely minor differences in appearance or song or even nest building skills. Yet, at the same time, far more striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences, between various breeds of dogs or even between different human ethnic groups which have been established via some span of reproductive isolation are not classified as different “species”? Why not?

    The “striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences” among different populations of humans and dogs are the results of random mutation, genetic drift, natural selection or (in the case of dogs) artificial selection–not “some span of reproductive isolation.” Humans don’t depend on the color or texture of eyes, hair and skin to avoid mating with chimps or apes, or even different groups of humans. When a female poodle is in heat, it doesn’t matter what “breed” a male dog belongs to, it is equally stimulated and could care less about the length, color or texture of eyes, hair, ears, snout, legs, tail, etc. The reproductive isolating method between dogs (genus Canis) and foxes (genus Vulpes) is likely based on olfaction rather than external morphology.

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  77. @Eddie:

    The “striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences” among different populations of humans and dogs are the results of random mutation, genetic drift, natural selection or (in the case of dogs) artificial selection–not “some span of reproductive isolation.”

    It doesn’t matter how the reproductive isolation is achieved, be it “artificial” or “natural”. The resulting phenotypic differences are much more obvious between certain breeds of dogs or even various human ethnic groups than between certain “cryptic” species.

    The reason why cryptic species are given taxonomic status while various breeds of dogs and human ethnic groups are not seems arbitrary to me. There really is no clear dividing line for taxonomic status on the one hand, but not on the other…

    Humans don’t depend on the color or texture of eyes, hair and skin to avoid mating with chimps or apes, or even different groups of humans.

    Are you kidding me? Humans are indeed biased in the choice of a mate toward those of similar phenotypic appearance. While this is not a universal rule (as is also the case with many kinds of cryptic species who also experience the occasional hybrids), it is certainly a bias.

    When a female poodle is in heat, it doesn’t matter what “breed” a male dog belongs to, it is equally stimulated and could care less about the length, color or texture of eyes, hair, ears, snout, legs, tail, etc. The reproductive isolating method between dogs (genus Canis) and foxes (genus Vulpes) is likely based on olfaction rather than external morphology.

    Have you considered the efforts of a Great Dane to mate with a chihuahua? Come on now, there are clear examples of not only artificial but natural reproductive isolate between various breeds of dogs and even between various human ethnic groups. Aborigines have arguably experienced some time of natural isolation, as have numerous other ethnic groups of modern and ancient humans. Unique phenotypic and even genotypic features were realized that are arguably more significant than the differences between the songs or nest structure of cryptic species of birds or the other very minor variations between cryptic species of frogs or giraffes, etc…

    Again, don’t pretend like this is entirely objective science. It isn’t. There is a a fair amount of subjectivity in play here…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  78. @OTNT_Believer:

    Must you keep harping on the one statement on Darwin’s finches that few other than yourself and maybe some other creationists disagree with?

    I have yet to see you present one phenotypic or genetic difference between any of Darwin’s Finches and other members of the Dome-nest Clade which could not be rapidly realized in a few thousand years. Certainly a 0.3% difference in cytochrome b isn’t a significant problem. I’m not sure what else makes you think that Darwin’s Finches are no uniquely evolved that they could not be explained as originating from Noah’s Ark a few thousand years ago?

    As far as your arguments for the date of the first Egyptian dynasty being preceded by over a thousand years of cultural development, it simply doesn’t take very long for groups of humans to develop complex cultures and governments. Also, there are those who argue that the date for the first dynasty is more likely to be less than 4,500 years ago. Either way, the dating of Egyptian dynasties is hardly a very solid basis for challenging the historical SDA position on origins…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  79. Okay, okay, OKAY. Sean Pitman says domesticated dogs and humans are represented by many species according to the criteria used by practicing taxonomists (none of whom interpret the data this way). The rest of us can disagree with his thinking, and those who believe the man truly has it all figured out can continue to see it that way.

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  80. @Sean

    As far as your arguments for the date of the first Egyptian dynasty being preceded by over a thousand years of cultural development, it simply doesn’t take very long for groups of humans to develop complex cultures and governments. Also, there are those who argue that the date for the first dynasty is more likely to be less than 4,500 years ago. Either way, the dating of Egyptian dynasties is hardly a very solid basis for challenging the historical SDA position on origins…

    It’s not just Egyptian Dynasty dates that are problematic, How about other Middle Eastern dates. For example, the Madaba Plains project in which Andrews University participates gives dates for human habitation that extend well back before 2500 BC, i.e. before the flood. How did these remains survive the flood?

    Here is a quote from the Madaba Plains Web Site about Umayri:

    “Tall al-`Umayri contains many chapters in its story, representing a span of 5,000 years of human life and survival in the area of central Jordan. What follows is the story of `Umayri’s tell formation and discoveries made while taking it apart.

    Early Bronze Age, ca. 3000 BC:

    At some point near 3000 BC inhabitants from around `Umayri constructed a megalithic dolmen, a large stone memorial.

    Early Bronze Age, ca.2500 BC:

    This is the earliest major settlement of `Umayri, developed around 2500 BC, which covered most of the site and had no fortification walls.”

    Source for the above is: http://www.madabaplains.org/umayri-old/story/story.html

    There are also numerous cuneiform tablets dating from more than 1000 years pre-flood. How did these survive?

    If you are going to accept the worldwide flood on evidence rather than faith, you need to deal with these kinds of evidence. These data and more from archaeoilogy just don’t fit a worldwide flood model dated to circa 2500 BC.

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  81. Hey, I’m not the one who came out and said that the differences between Darwin Finches and all other birds were so dramatic and clear cut and objectively understood that they could not be reasonably explained in just a few thousand years… or that the Egyptian dynasties are definitively known to go back over 6,000 years (when they probably go back no more than 4,500 years)…

    A “bit” of subjectivity involved here? – no?

    A bit of ad hominem here perhaps? A bit uncalled for I think, especially since it doesn’t even address my comment. And must you keep harping on the one statement on Darwin’s finches that few other than yourself and maybe some other creationists disagree with? Maybe Darwin’s finches are one of God’s kinds, which is my point in making the time reference. If they can’t evolve in a few thousand years, then they must have been created that way.

    As for the Egyptian Dynasties, I am no expert, but all tyhe standard references on the subject give ranges for the 1st Dynasty as somewhere in the vicinity of 3000-2600 BC, which if I do my math correctly puts us at about 4600-5000 years ago. And this is a full-blown civilization. Even if we assume the flood happened 5000 years ago, that hardly gives time for a full-blown civilization to form, not to speak of the couple thousand years of evidence for the build-up of said civilization. Either the older evidence somehow miraculously survived the flood, or Egypt was not destroyed by the flood. Or, as you seem to suggest, the dates are all wrong. There sure are a lot of people wrong and you are always right.

    By the way, the 3000-2600 BC reference is from http://books.google.com/books?id=lF78Max-h8MC Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs By James P. Allen, 2010, p. 10

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  82. @ken:

    And if they can’t do to the fact they are more convinced that ‘mainstream’ science provides better evidence?

    Then they should be working for public universities rather than for an employer with clearly stated goals and ideals for education that they know they cannot support in good conscience.

    Sean you are going to need enough creationist scientists to fill the void if the Adventist institutions let them go. If that happens the scientific credibility of those institutions is going to be under severe strain. I suspect that will result in removal of accreditation due to the suppression of academic freedom.

    There is no such thing as true academic freedom – not even in public universities. Need I refer you to what happened to Dr. Richard Sternberg when he simply published a paper opposing the mainstream perspective?

    http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/angry-scientists-publishing-on-intelligent-design/

    Or what happened to a math professor working in a Catholic school when she stated publicly that she didn’t believe in God?

    http://www.educatetruth.com/la-sierra-evidence/2280/

    The short if it is that the Church cannot afford to hire representatives that go around undermining the Church’s position on the Church’s dime – no matter how painful the situation might become in the short term…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  83. Since Sean and others seem so certain of their “weight of evidence” in favor of a worldwide flood, and they cite Brand as their champion in this cause, I thought I would just post couple of quotes from his book “Beginnings: Are Science and Scripture Partners in the Search for Origins.” ISBN 9780816321445

    “Modern technology shows that the continents are now moving about 0.4 to 2 inches (1-4 cm) per year. Short age geology says that while the continental plates are moving slowly today, at some time in the past they must have moved quite rapidly. However, rapid continental movement poses difficulties for short age geology that we don’t know yet how to solve–for example, what became of the large amount of heat we would expect such movements to generate?” p. 129

    The sequence of fossils. Interventionists face another challenge. They must explain how it is that trilobites, dinosaurs, and humans all lived at the same time yet didn’t enter the fossil record together. The ecological zonation theory says that we find trilobites, dinosaurs, and humans in different parts of the fossil record because they lived at different elevations. That theory is interesting, but it doesn’t seem to explain some complexities.

    “For instance, if truly catastrophic conditions started at the beginning of the Flood and deposited the sediments in the lower Paleozoic within a few months, huge amounts of rain must have fallen in the uplands where the people lived. We would expect that the resulting catastrophic flow of water from those highlands down to the ocean would have carried with it an abundance of mice, earthworms, pollen grains from flowering plants, grasshoppers, and other terrestrial creeping things . (Picture this process occurring in fig . 10.3.) Why don’t we find these organisms until much higher up-much later-in the fossil record? This fact is difficult to explain if a highly catastrophic, one-year-Iong flood process created the fossil record.” pages 129-131

    These are just two examples of many in the book that suggest the evidence isn’t there. Brand’s response to these challenges is to be commended and he periodically suggests we need to do more research. If our evidence is already so strong, then why a need for more research? I don’t know an SDA geologist that will agree to the assertion that the weight of the evidence favors the flood. Admittedly I only know a few SDA geologists, such as Brand, Clausen, and Buchheim, so maybe I’ve missed one that knows enough to assure me of how strong the weight of the evidence for the flood is. On the other hand I know a number of individuals who are armchair geologists who are perfectly willing to be a bit strong on the topic, although none that seem to be so strongly convinced as Sean.

    It hardly seems to be fair to fault our SDA college biology professors for not being more certain about the weight of the evidence supporting the flood than our prominent SDA geologists. I trust someone like Brand to be open and forthright with the evidence, and when he says the evidence has problems we cannot yet solve, I trust him on that. I’m not a geologist and know the literature on the topic almost not at all, so who should I trust? Feel free to point me to some other quotes by Brand or another trained SDA geologist that gives more weight to the evidence, and maybe I could be convinced, but for now, I think I’ll have to accept the worldwide flood on faith, and like Brand, hope for better evidence to come as our SDA geologists study the problem more thoroughly.

    Oh, and by the way, I recommend Brand’s book. It is an easy to read and frank appraisal of the current state of young earth creationism, and it’s short enough to read in its entirety on a Sabbath afternoon.

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  84. I don’t think many of those of us who read Sean’s statements on this and other web sites appreciate how truly heroic is the task he has set out for himself.

    His interpretation of the Bible requires that all life must be very young—less than 10,000 years. However, he is not content in just leaving it there as his personal belief about the history of the physical world based on his own interpretation of an ancient text.

    He believes that there must be solid modern scientific evidence to support the conclusions he has reached because of his religious beliefs. He is thus forced to call into question and reject the foundational conclusions of the essentially all of the scientific disciplines which deal with earth history, the fossil record, and human prehistory.

    I don’t think the causal reader is aware of what kind of heroic odyssey upon which Sean has embarked. He must reject all of the mainline conclusions of 99.9% of all those scientists who are involved in all isotopic dating methods, and all other types of dating methods including dendrochronology, varve dating, ice core dating, stable isotope studies of ocean cores, and on and on. The very long list of scientific conclusions he is required to reject is truly impressive. He must believe that all of the scientists involved in the study of these topics are wrong and he is right. I’m thinking of a word that describes the attitude that Sean must have to be able to do this.

    Anyone reading his web site must be impressed by how many topics he has studied. This is certainly appropriate and to be lauded. But then a miracle occurs! He always finds some major, fundamental mistake or misunderstanding that all of the specialists in each field who have spend their professional lives studying either don’t know about, or ignore, or misinterpret or something.

    Now one might very impressed if he might accomplish this in even one or two instances. But he must come up with reasons and arguments that refute conclusions reached throughout the entire range of scientific fields which yield evidence that the world and life are very, very old.

    This is why I believe it is appropriate to call Sean’s crusade truly heroic. I continue to wonder how he has the time to practice his medical specialty which I understand is pathology.

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  85. @OTNT_Believer:

    Since Sean and others seem so certain of their “weight of evidence” in favor of a worldwide flood, and they cite Brand as their champion in this cause, I thought I would just post couple of quotes from his book “Beginnings: Are Science and Scripture Partners in the Search for Origins.” ISBN 9780816321445

    “Modern technology shows that the continents are now moving about 0.4 to 2 inches (1-4 cm) per year. Short age geology says that while the continental plates are moving slowly today, at some time in the past they must have moved quite rapidly. However, rapid continental movement poses difficulties for short age geology that we don’t know yet how to solve–for example, what became of the large amount of heat we would expect such movements to generate?” p. 129

    It is hard to know how much heat would have been generated by more rapid movements. There may have been lubricating effects of water and molten rock that would have reduced the heat to a manageable degree. Also, water does absorb a great deal of heat and the post-Flood world seems to have been much warmer, globally, than it is today for at least a few hundred years. This is what helped to make the post-Flood world very lush and verdant, even above the arctic circle, for long enough to establish millions of mammoths and other large herbivores and warm-weather animals and plants in such northerly regions.

    The fact is that bringing up problems like this for which a definitive answer might not be known does not change the fact that much more substantial problems exist for those who think that there never was much more rapid continental drift in the past… to include the apparent lack of coastal erosion that would have been expected given mainstream thinking and the lack of an adequate mechanism for the long-term slow movement of continents that produce the energy needed to build extensive and rather massive mountain ranges and ocean trenches.

    In short, in addition to Brand’s book, it might be worthwhile for those who are interested in this topic to read a paper Brand published in 2007 entitled, “Wholistic Geology: Geology Before, During and After the Biblical Flood” (see Link).

    I believe this paper fairly presents the potential and problems with the Biblical perspective and presents interesting alternatives. I do not personally agree with all of Brand’s arguments or conclusions, but I think he presents many interesting points that are worth serious consideration. It also seems, to me anyway, that Brand himself strongly suggests in this paper that the weight of evidence does in fact favor the Biblical model of origins and a recent formation of the geologic column/fossil records to include features consistent with a Noachian Flood of worldwide proportions.

    “The sequence of fossils. Interventionists face another challenge. They must explain how it is that trilobites, dinosaurs, and humans all lived at the same time yet didn’t enter the fossil record together. The ecological zonation theory says that we find trilobites, dinosaurs, and humans in different parts of the fossil record because they lived at different elevations. That theory is interesting, but it doesn’t seem to explain some complexities.

    Ecological zonation is only one factor that was most likely in play. There are numerous other factors that likely influenced the sorting of the fossil record. Take, for example, the apparent separation of crabs, lobsters, and trilobites in the fossil record. One might reasonable hypothesize that trilobites appear in the fossil record before crabs and lobsters at least party because of the relative abundance of trilobites compared to crabs and lobsters. This hypothesis is at least plausible given the arguments of some authors who conclude that, “Species identities and their relative abundances are non-random properties of communities that persist over long periods of ecological time and across geographic space. This is consistent with species abundance contributing heavily to evolutionary patterns.”

    After all, “It’s very rare to find fossils of lobsters”, while fossil trilobites are relatively common. General mobility, ability to survive catastrophic conditions, and other ecological/habitat factors could also reasonably contribute to the differential location of trilobites vs. lobsters and crabs in the fossil record. Various sorting factors associated with floods could also have contributed.

    As another example, consider the coelacanth fish. This fish was preserved in the fossil record for what mainstream scientists claim to have been 400 million years of time. Then they suddenly disappear from the fossil record some “80 million years ago” only to reappear alive an well swimming around in oceans today. Clearly, some types of coelacanths lived in habitats that did not lend themselves to fossilization while others did. Obviously then, some habitats are clearly more susceptible to the preservation of fossils. If those specific habitats are not occupied by a particular kind of creature, it may not be preserved in the fossil record even though it is still alive and well in some other habitat.

    Consider also that the crayfish was once thought to have evolved from lobster-like ancestors around 140 Ma. This was until very modern-looking crayfish were subsequently found in sedimentary rocks dating up to 300 Ma according to the mainstream time scale.

    In short, the problems for evolutionary thinking outweigh the problems and unanswered questions from the young-life perspective – at least as far as I am personally able to tell.

    One striking example of a problem for the mainstream perspective is the common finding of “Megabreccias” throughout the geologic column. For a detailed discussion of this phenomenon, please refer to the following 2009 paper by Arthur Chadwick:

    http://origins.swau.edu/papers/geologic/mega/eng/index.html

    Another example, also by Chadwick, are continent-wide, even worldwide, paleocurrents flowing in the same direction as recorded on the surfaces of the sedimentary layers within the geologic column.

    “Paleozoic paleocurrents indicate the influence of directional forces on a grand scale over an extended period. Various authors have attributed the directionality to such things as “regional slopes,” but it is difficult to see how this could apply to deposits of such diverse origins over so wide an area. The lack of strong directionality in the underlying Precambrian sustains the need to seek understanding of what makes the Paleozoic style of sedimentation unique with respect to directional indicators.”

    http://origins.swau.edu/papers/global/paleocurrents/eng/index.html

    “For instance, if truly catastrophic conditions started at the beginning of the Flood and deposited the sediments in the lower Paleozoic within a few months, huge amounts of rain must have fallen in the uplands where the people lived. We would expect that the resulting catastrophic flow of water from those highlands down to the ocean would have carried with it an abundance of mice, earthworms, pollen grains from flowering plants, grasshoppers, and other terrestrial creeping things . (Picture this process occurring in fig . 10.3.) Why don’t we find these organisms until much higher up-much later-in the fossil record? This fact is difficult to explain if a highly catastrophic, one-year-Iong flood process created the fossil record.” pages 129-131

    These are just two examples of many in the book that suggest the evidence isn’t there.

    That’s not Brands suggestion. Brand believes that there is a great deal of evidence to support, or at least is consistent with, the theory of a worldwide Noachian Flood. Just because there are a few unanswered questions does not mean that the weight of evidence for the young-life perspective isn’t there. It is there.

    Brand’s response to these challenges is to be commended and he periodically suggests we need to do more research. If our evidence is already so strong, then why a need for more research?

    This is a rather silly question. As long as there are unanswered questions, more research will be needed to search for answers to these questions. Again, just because questions remain doesn’t mean that we don’t know anything or that we don’t have the weight of currently available evidence strongly favoring the young-life perspective.

    I don’t know an SDA geologist that will agree to the assertion that the weight of the evidence favors the flood. Admittedly I only know a few SDA geologists, such as Brand, Clausen, and Buchheim, so maybe I’ve missed one that knows enough to assure me of how strong the weight of the evidence for the flood is. On the other hand I know a number of individuals who are armchair geologists who are perfectly willing to be a bit strong on the topic, although none that seem to be so strongly convinced as Sean.

    Perhaps you should contact someone like Ariel Roth or Arthur Chadwick?

    It hardly seems to be fair to fault our SDA college biology professors for not being more certain about the weight of the evidence supporting the flood than our prominent SDA geologists. I trust someone like Brand to be open and forthright with the evidence, and when he says the evidence has problems we cannot yet solve, I trust him on that. I’m not a geologist and know the literature on the topic almost not at all, so who should I trust? Feel free to point me to some other quotes by Brand or another trained SDA geologist that gives more weight to the evidence, and maybe I could be convinced, but for now, I think I’ll have to accept the worldwide flood on faith, and like Brand, hope for better evidence to come as our SDA geologists study the problem more thoroughly.

    Your personal beliefs are not the issue here – nor are mine for that matter. The issue here is over the SDA Church hiring professors to teach students that the Church’s fundamental position on origins is scientifically untenable and irrational. That sort of thing will more effectively undermine the Church from within than any external attack could do to destroy the effectiveness of the Church as an organization.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  86. @Ken: @Ken: Don Quitoxe? Hmmm…. Not, I submit, Don but Daniel. Quitoxe was amusingly pathetic, going up against naught but the wind, just fantasy. Daniel went up against…but you, and Erv, should re-read it yourself, really.

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  87. Re: Adventist Principal’s Quote

    “These are the days when one can be proud to come apart from the majority and hold fast to the truth though no one join him.”

    Dear Adventist

    Yes it takes great courage to be in the minority and stand up for what one beliefs in.

    I imagine this is how Darwin felt when he came out against the creation majority of the day. Or Galileo against the church establishment for that matter.

    I think Sean has a great deal of courage. Perhaps Sean’s ‘ark’ will be teaching creation science at an Adventist institution to keep it afloat. Just a thought.

    Peace be with you on your Sabbath.
    Your minority agnostic friend Ken

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  88. Evolutionists are not immune from having to explain the distribution of such things as worms and amphibians….or even larger animals. Consider the Galapagos Islands.

    Galápagos Penguin, Spheniscus mendiculus, the only living tropical penguin
    Galápagos land iguanas, Conolophus spp.
    Marine Iguana, Amblyrhynchus cristatus, the only iguana feeding in the sea
    Several species of worms (one thought to be endemic, the others introduced)!

    Regarding small invertebrates, this quote from The Darwin Foundation website is thought-provoking:

    “The exact number of terrestrial invertebrates in Galapagos is still unknown. Until 2001 a total of 2289 species has been reported in the literature, but numbers of new records and newly described species are still being added to that list. As much as 51.7% of these species are today reported to be endemic to Galapagos.”

    The question is, then, if what scientists claim is true and the islands literally rose up from the sea due to volcanic activity under the sea floor, then every organism in the Galapagos has migrated there from afar. How do these invertebrates get there? Swim? Fly? Vector borne? Float? All of the above?

    Some look to the fact that some of these organisms, for example, earthworms in the Galapagos, were brought there by man and then try to cast doubt on any requirements for such small and apparently helpless organisms to have migrated there themselves. However, how does this prove anything? If man (farmers) wanted earthworms in Galapagos enough to import them, who is to say that the post-flood inhabitants of the earth did not do similarly? I say the migration happened via multiple modes, including through human assistance. Small children are known to transport their favorite pet insects for many miles nowadays, and I’m certain that back then would have been no different. Birds may have dropped a part of a worm after eating its other half, and as we know, chopped worms can regenerate. Insects may have found passage via a floating coconut into whose husk they had burrowed. Human minds tend to be ignorant of the thousands of ways God has for each one we can think of. Consider the myriad ways in which migrations can and do occur, and then recognize that your list still comes short of all the possibilities.

    Penguins in the Galapagos? Did those come from the iguanas there, as evolutionists might prefer? or did our Creator God specially guide them there, as He did the animals into the ark, the ark-laden oxen, the quails in the wilderness, the ravens for Elijah, and so many more? However they got there, much remains unknown.

    Creationist viewpoints cannot be dismissed merely for lack of evidence to prove them. We will not always have knowledge of God’s wise ways. He gives us ample evidence by which to trust Him. May we continue to seek out His wisdom and truth.

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  89. Re Ervin’s Quote

    “I don’t think many of those of us who read Sean’s statements on this and other web sites appreciate how truly heroic is the task he has set out for himself.”

    Perhaps Sean is our modern Don Quitoxe.

    Cheers
    Ken

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  90. @Eddie:

    In other words, hummingbirds quickly migrated across the globe and occupied many places at one point after the Flood where they have since died out. The same thing is certainly true for all other types of land animals. – Sean Pitman

    Naturally! I can just imagine all those species of nematode worms, earthworms, velvet worms, land snails, frogs, moles and sloths dashing out of the ark and racing each other across deserts, grasslands, tundra, boreal forests, dry forests and mountain passes from Mt. Ararat to Beringia to the rainforests of South America. Only a deluded heretic could ever doubt that it all happened within a few thousand years.

    There were no vast deserts or frozen tundras right after the Flood. The entire planet was quite warm, wet, lush and verdant for a few hundred years after the Flood. The Sahara Desert did not exist. It was covered by vegetation and supported a vibrant ecosystem. Even above the arctic circle millions of warm weather plants and animals thrived for a while in this warm lush environment that existed before the first post-Flood ice age. In such an environment, the re-population of the Earth with land animals derived from a single location could easily have taken place very rapidly. The planet really isn’t that big of a place. The continents would not have been so widely separated right after the Flood either and there were probably numerous land bridges which no longer exist… and further bridges were created during the ice age.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the huge problem with this biogeographical distribution argument given what we know about the rapid rate at which most land animals can travel. This planet really isn’t that big…

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t think nematode worms or other kinds of worms would have needed an ark to survive the Flood. Did you forget about the “nostrils”? 😉

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  91. Re Sean’s Quote

    “The continents would not have been so widely separated right after the Flood either and there were probably numerous land bridges which no longer exist… and further bridges were created during the ice age.”

    Dear Sean

    Doesn’t this fly in the face of your theory of rapid continental drift at the time of the flood? Are you speculating here or is there science to support this ‘new’ theory of rapid movement but narrow separation of continents?

    Cheers
    Ken

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  92. He believes that there must be solid modern scientific evidence to support the conclusions he has reached because of his religious beliefs.He is thus forced to call into question and reject the foundational conclusions of the essentially all of the scientific disciplines which deal with earth history, the fossil record, and human prehistory.I don’t think the causal reader is aware of what kind of heroic odyssey upon which Sean has embarked.He must reject all of the mainline conclusions of 99.9% of all those scientists who are involved in all isotopic dating methods, and all other types of dating methods including dendrochronology, varve dating, ice core dating, stable isotope studies of ocean cores, and on and on. The very long list of scientific conclusions he is required to reject is truly impressive.He must believe that all of the scientists involved in the study of these topics are wrong and he is right.

    Ervin,

    You are quite right in your support of the truth. It is a fact that many more people believe in evolution than in creation. It is well worth noting this, for it points clearly to which side has the truth. As Christians, we know which side must necessarily have the truth. Jesus told us this in Matthew 7:13-14. He also told us what the time of the end would be like in Matthew 24:37. Mrs. White speaks of Noah’s time as well in the following passage from “The Great Controversy.”

    But the message seemed to them an idle tale, and they believed it not. Emboldened in their wickedness, they mocked the messenger of God, made light of his entreaties, and even accused him of presumption. How dare one man stand up against all the great men of the earth? If Noah’s message were true, why did not all the world see it and believe it? One man’s assertion against the wisdom of thousands! They would not credit the warning, nor would they seek shelter in the ark. {GC88 337.3}

    Ervin, you were quite accurate with your figures. You claimed that Sean was up against 99.9% of scientists. If that is true, and I’m sure you must be right, then it proves the veracity of Jesus’ words! Noah, alone against thousands, represented that same figure! One in a thousand means the majority represents 99.9%, so your math and God’s math are quite parallel indeed. And you recall, of course, which percentage had the truth.

    Indeed, we are living in the last days. These are the days when one can be proud to come apart from the majority and hold fast to the truth though no one join him.

    In the words of one of our wisest the 99.9% figure is found again:

    I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: …Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. (Ecclesiastes 7:25, 28)

    Solomon found one wise man among a thousand. To be among the 999 is folly. Who will be wise in this generation?

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  93. @Sean

    New islands, not to mention entire continents attached to each other by land bridges, can be populated much more rapidly than you evidently imagine – without the need to invoke millions of years of time.
    Consider, for example, the new volcanic island of Surtsey. Surtsey began life as an eruption 130 meters below the surface of the ocean on November 14, 1963. By the end of 1964 Surtsey was an island 174 meters above sea level. Within a few months seeds and other plant parts washed up on shore and were blown in on wind currents and were carried in by birds – and took root.

    Let me get this sraight, because Surtsey, which is less than 4 miles from another mcu older island, less 12 miles from another larger and older island, and is barely more than 20 miles from Iceland has seen such rapid migration that the Galápagos Islands, which are almost 600 miles from the coast of South America (the nearest land of any kind) should be easily colonized in a few thousand years? I’m not even sure how to respond. The scale difference is so great that the comparison seems ludicrous. I have no poroblem at all with the Surtsey research, but it hardly hasanything to sa at all about migration rates to islands that are 400 miles or more from the nearest land.

    Then there is the added poblem with the Galápagos Islands that there are species there which occur nowhere else on earth, which means that at least some of them had to have evolved from some ancestors that migrated there. If we assume a worldwide flood, then many of the ancestral species would have had to migrate there in the first 1000 years to have time for the evolution required to produce the modern species now found there.

    So, you are saying that there was super fast migration of species that have no way of crossing such a long distance of water (thus relying on chance events, like a floating mat of vegetation or a log or something) that then speciate at rates unsupported by evolutionary theory. These new species are so different from species elsewhere that there has even been some difficulty in determining their taxonomic affinities. Sean, you are a stronger believer in evolution and natural selection than I thought. What we are talking here is macroevolution on a hyperfast scale following on the heels of numerous founder populations arriving at orders of magnitude faster rates than any ecologist would even consider. You never cease to amaze me.

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  94. @Sean

    @Eddie: Naturally! I can just imagine all those species of nematode worms, earthworms, velvet worms, land snails, frogs, moles and sloths dashing out of the ark and racing each other across deserts, grasslands, tundra, boreal forests, dry forests and mountain passes from Mt. Ararat to Beringia to the rainforests of South America. Only a deluded heretic could ever doubt that it all happened within a few thousand years.

    There were no vast deserts or frozen tundras right after the Flood. The entire planet was quite warm, wet, lush and verdant for a few hundred years after the Flood. The Sahara Desert did not exist. It was covered by vegetation and supported a vibrant ecosystem. Even above the arctic circle millions of warm weather plants and animals thrived for a while in this warm lush environment that existed before the first post-Flood ice age. In such an environment, the re-population of the Earth with land animals derived from a single location could easily have taken place very rapidly. The planet really isn’t that big of a place. The continents would not have been so widely separated right after the Flood either and there were probably numerous land bridges which no longer exist… and further bridges were created during the ice age.I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the huge problem with this biogeographical distribution argument given what we know about the rapid rate at which most land animals can travel. This planet really isn’t that big…Oh, and by the way, I don’t think nematode worms or other kinds of worms would have needed an ark to survive the Flood. Did you forget about the “nostrils”? Sean Pitmanhttp://www.DetectingDesign.com  (Quote)

    Wow! This is so astounding. I mean no disrespect Sean, but this response from you is so much like the “Just So Story” approach, used by evolutionists, you so much denigrate. Now not only are all these organisms so obviously capable of “mega” dispersal, but the entire recent ice age is somehow able to fit into the story between the flood and now? These are not my areas of expertise, so let me add a few more quotes from Brand.

    “It doesn’t appear that ordinary migration over the earth from the landing place of the ark in the Middle East can explain all the large-scale biogeography of mammals. Some other still unknown factors must have been involved, possibly including some form of directed dispersal.” Beginnings, p. 133

    “A short-age geological model predicts that the evidence will ultimately point to a more rapid process of glaciation, and some modern observations suggest that ice packs can grow or melt quite rapidly under the right conditions. But we don’t know how to explain other lines of evidence, especially studies of samples from polar ice and deep-sea sediments containing thousands of fine laminae that scientists interpret as annual layers.” Beginnings, p. 99-100

    And the mammal migrations should be pretty easy to explain compared with say amphibians, whose migratory abilities limit them just a wee bit. And Brand’s reference to “directed dispersal” is fine, but that would hardly constitute scientific evidence. And ice cores are a real tough one. It’s pretty easy to make a good sounding argument for multiple layers of sediment on continents from a worldwide flood, but yet another thing to make the same argument for ice laminae. I don’t care how you look at it, laminae in ice do look a whole lot more like annual precipitation layers than some process that might have only taken a few thousand years. And if you simply want to brush these two difficulties aside and say they represent just “small” challenges to flood geology, then you are doing just what you fault conventional geologists with doing. They often brush aside what evidence we have here and there that questions their theories, and it is little enough that they don’t feel all that threatened.

    I’m sorry, but the weight of the evidence is in the eyes of the beholder. I just like to say that my faith does not depend on the weight of the scientific evidence and it’s not a blind faith either. My strongest evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible and of the truth of the Bible is my personal relationship with that God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of that I don’t require that science provide more evidence for proof for</b Biblical events than against them. In fact, I find this kind of faith relevant enough that even were I to discover incontrovertible proof that the flood was a local event, it would not weaken my faith in the Bible. Rather, it would just weaken my faith in human skill at interpreting that word, and area where I already am a bit of an agnostic. So for now I will accept the flood story on faith and remain open to whatever God may have to show me in the future, including better scientific support for the flood, if such is to be found.

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