@Ron: I know you believe in some kinds of …

Comment on Walla Walla University: The Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation by Sean Pitman.


I know you believe in some kinds of genetic change. When is genetic change “adaption”, and when is genetic change “evolution”?

All forms of genetic change within a gene pool that are based on random mutations which were not present in the parental gene pool, are a form of gene pool “evolution”. However, not all forms of phenotypic change in different environments are based on changes to the underlying gene pool. Mendalian variation is one such example. Mendelian variation, as already explained for you, is based on the pre-programmed genetic potential of a given gene pool to produce various phenotypic expressions without the requirement of any novel random mutations or genetic elements of any kind being added to the gene pool. Such forms of phenotypic changes are not the result of genotypic “evolution” or change over time.

Darwin described adaption of finch’s beaks as an example of evolution, i.e. a change in response to selection pressures.
Darwin called it evolution and he did not describe any particular mechanism. When he wrote, the Bohr atom hadn’t even been described, let alone DNA. So, when we talk about Darwinian evolution, we are talking about what ever mechanism causes finches beaks to change (and probably lots of other mechanisms as well).

Darwin did propose a mechanism for his changes which is slight modifications or “insensible gradations” adding up over time to produce bigger and bigger changes – all under the guidance of natural selection.

What Darwin did not realize is that many phenotypic changes are not the result of any true change in the underlying information responsible for the phenotypic expression. In other words, Darwin didn’t understand the nature of genetic information. He didn’t understand the concept of Mendelian variation and the pre-programmed nature of the potential for phenotypic variability he was observing. He therefore did not understand the natural limitations that constrains this pre-programmed variability for living things – like finches.

When you say that you don’t accept Darwinian evolution, without any further qualification, then you are saying that you don’t believe that any species has any ability to respond to selection pressures of any kind.

Where did I ever say that I don’t accept any form of Darwinian evolution? Have you not paid attention to the many times I’ve explained, directly to you, that low levels of Darwinian-style evolution do happen all the time? – very commonly and very rapidly? Do you not remember the times I’ve explained to you that while Darwinian-style evolution does take place via RM/NS, that this form of evolution is limited to low levels of functional complexity that come well shy of the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues?

I am not trying to make you say that you don’t believe in ANY change. I am not. I am trying to define what kinds of change/evolution, you believe in, and what kind you don’t. I want to get specific, concrete and as detailed as we can while remaining at a laymen’s level. However, I am having trouble finding any change that you will endorse.

Oh please. I have a whole website on this topic which I’ve referenced for you many many times. I’ve also explained to you directly, in fair detail, the potential and limits of what the Darwinian mechanism can and cannot achieve in living things. What more do you want?

I am intentionally picking examples I think you would endorse, as being OK in a YEC model, but for some reason you seem afraid to actually say yes or no.

That’s not true at all. Many of your examples simply aren’t based on the Darwinian mechanism at all – to include your examples that require the input of intelligent design and those that are based on Mendelian variation. These are not valid examples of Darwinian-style evolution. Not even well-educated modern neo-Darwinists would recognize many of your examples of “evolution” as valid.

Do you agree that changes in finches beaks, and lizard legs is evolution?

No. These changes are based almost exclusively on Mendelian variation, not the evolution of anything new within the underlying gene pool.

If not, what is YOUR definition of evolution?

Evolution is defined as something new evolving into the gene pool that wasn’t already there to begin with within the parental gene pool of original genetic options.

Why do you chose to use a different definition?

Because, there are different mechanisms for phenotypic changes over time – not all of which are Darwinian. You have learned about Mendelian variation in your medical training, have you not?

Do you believe that the color of populations of moths, (not individual moths) can evolve in response to the selection pressures of pollution? If yes, then is it not proper to talk about how the population curve evolves over time?

The potential for differences in shades of light and dark for peppered moths already existed in the original parental population. Changes in the ratio of expression of these pre-existing genetic options is, yet again, based on Mendelian-style variation – not the evolution of anything functionally new within the underlying gene pool.

This is really basic stuff here. It seems like you simply aren’t understanding the basic science under discussion in this forum.

Do you believe that the genome of the HIV virus can evolve differently in different population groups? This is likely a different mechanism.

Yes, this is a very different mechanism that is based on novel random mutations evolving over time in a Darwinian manner. This is a true example of Darwinian-style evolution via RM/NS. Of course, it is a very low level example of true evolution in action.

Do you believe Mrs. White when she talks about amalgamation, or do you believe that amalgamation is not possible?

Of course various forms of mixing of genes between different kinds of gene pools is possible via intelligent design – as in various forms of genetic engineering. However, the natural production of hybrids is not possible between different kinds of gene pools that were not originally derived from the same gene pool.

What do you think amalgamation means?

It depends upon the context in which this term is used – which is not always clear in the writings of Mrs. White. She seems to have used the term to refer to the mixing of peoples of different faiths or views of God through marriage as well as the attempted mixing or hybridization of different kinds of animals.

Would you agree that it means at a minimum, the creation of new phenotypes due to hybridization? e.g. a mule.

No, I do not think it means that since horses, donkeys and mules all share the very same gene pool of genetic options. They are not different “kinds” of animals since they share the same “kind” of pool of genetic options.

I’ve already explained this to you a couple times before (Link).

Remembering that the term evolution makes no intrinsic judgment as to whether, something is good, or bad, but only that it is responding to selection pressure, wouldn’t this be an example of a “degenerative evolution”, i.e. a response to the selection pressure caused by the presence of sin?

Mendelian variation is able to respond to selection pressure, but it isn’t based on anything new evolving within the underlying gene pool. Therefore, it isn’t correct to say that all forms of change over time via natural selection are based on Darwinian-style evolution. That’s simply not true.

Also, this the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists is not over degenerative forms of evolution, but over the notion that any mindless mechanism can produce novel systems of function beyond very low levels of functional complexity. That’s the entire disagreement here.

So, for you to present examples of stepwise intelligent design or degenerative evolution is irrelevant to the point at hand – a strawman distraction.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Walla Walla University: The Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation

So, now all of a sudden, you DO believe in Darwinian evolution. Have you talked to Bob about that? Is he going to allow you to stay in the church?

There is no “all of a sudden” about it. We’ve believed in very limited forms of evolution via random mutations all along. Mendelian variation has also always been accepted as a fact of nature by creationists. I’m still not quite sure how you could have concluded otherwise?

Sean Pitman

Walla Walla University: The Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation

Why then are you arguing against us? If you are perfectly content with a literal six day creation week, then where is your argument with us? We are all fine with the existence of very limited forms of Darwinian-style evolution occurring at low levels of functional complexity since the Fall. Our only problem is with those teaching in our schools telling our students that the neo-Darwinian story of origins, to include the existence and evolution of all forms of life on this planet, from a very simple common ancestor over hundreds of millions of years, is the true story of origins – that the literal six-day creation week is nonsense. That’s what we’re having a problem with.

If you agree with us in this regard, what then is your concern?

Sean Pitman

Walla Walla University: The Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation

The founding fathers did indeed argue against creeds, organization, and church government of any kind. However, they soon discovered the impracticality of this position and changed their minds. They all, including Mrs. White, ended up supporting standards of church order and government, to include the adoption of rules of enforcement particularly in regard to who could officially represent the church in a paid capacity.

Of course, those who were not considered to accurately represent the views of the early SDA Church did not receive “cards of commendation”. In other words, they were let go from church employment. And what was the attitude of such persons? – according to Loughborough?:

Of course those who claimed “liberty to do as they pleased,” to “preach what they pleased,” and to “go when and where they pleased,” without “consultation with any one,” failed to get cards of commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a warfare against those whom they claimed were “depriving them of their liberty.” Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a people to act, to establish “order,” these opponents soon turned their warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that “when they got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its `loud cry.’ ”

One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc… All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.”

Loughborough, JN. Testimonies for the Church. p. 650. Vol. 1.

It seems to me like you have the same attitude as those who where excluded from being paid representatives of the early SDA Church by our founding fathers…

Also, the fact that Mrs. White clearly claimed to have been shown, directly by God, the literal nature of the Genesis account of the creation week, completely undermines any leeway you could possibly claim in her writings for the neo-Darwinist position. The neo-Darwinist position is fundamentally opposed to the SDA position on origins and always has been. It is also opposed to the rationality and credibility of Christianity in general.

Sean Pitman

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