@Sean Pitman: You say “What is not published in literature …

Comment on WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation by pauluc.

@Sean Pitman:

You say
“What is not published in literature is any viable mechanism whereby the overwhelming load of detrimental mutations might be removed from the gene pools of slowly reproducing creatures (like all mammals for example) nearly as fast as they are entering it.”

Sean it is called natural selection and is by no means a new concept. As you indicate most mutations are detrimental. This is expected if most regions of the genome have been selected or designed for specific function.

The work of Mukai and Estes and many others on c elegans using a worm with a defective DNA repair gene msh2 has clearly shown that there is accumulation of mutations at 100-1000 times that in the control worms but that as you increase population size beyond 25 the fitness returns to near equivalence.
Estes 2004 paper shows that there is a large number of mutations however that remain largely cryptic in the Msh2 knockout.

What the recent paper from 2010 shows is that when you look at the DNA level at these worms that have recovered to normal fitness in a large population (n=1000) over 60 generations they found that there were mutations that fixed in coding and non-coding regions. Most deleterius mutations however did not become fixed in the large population size. Genetically the population stabilized at 10-20 generations.

These studies and the extensive studies on bacteria and virus as well as yeast clearly make Sanford conjectures on genetic doom suspect.

We all have our demons but if you persist in your statement that there is no viable mechanism I will have to conclude that mortons demon is especially strong with you. You can say you disagree but I do not think you can honestly say there is no viable mechanism in the face of this experimental evidence.

Once again I would ask you to subject your ideas to experiment for that is the only way science works. I absolutely acknowledge that I do not know much about the populations genetics beyond what I learned and published during my higher degree in genetics but think that consulting the vast literature that is there and accessible via pubmed is preferable to self citation and referral to a site that is scarcely current.

1. Estes S, Phillips PC, Denver DR, Thomas WK, Lynch M. Mutation Accumulation in Populations of Varying Size: The Distribution of Mutational Effects for Fitness Correlates in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics 2004 Mar;166(3):1269 -1279.
2. Estes S, Phillips PC, Denver DR. Fitness recovery and compensatory evolution in natural mutant lines of C. Elegans. Evolution 2011 Aug;65(8):2335-2344.
3. Denver DR, Howe DK, Wilhelm LJ, Palmer CA, Anderson JL, Stein KC, Phillips PC, Estes S. Selective sweeps and parallel mutation in the adaptive recovery from deleterious mutation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genome Res 2010 Dec;20(12):1663-1671.

pauluc Also Commented

WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation
@Sean Pitman:
Thank your for your response. You state

“The problem, of course, is that the per generation detrimental mutation rate still is and always was far far too high for natural selection to keep up (for creatures with few offspring per generation). Also, as already explained above, the relative strength of natural selection has absolutely nothing to do with this problem.”

And here is the nub of the problem. You and Sandford state have accepted a faith position of biblical inerrancy and literalism which affects your reading of the scientific literature.

You accept by faith a 6000 year earth history and the genetic models must follow. You accept that there must be genetic degradation because it must be so according to your a priori assumptions on the innerrancy of EGW and the bible. You have of course given us mutation rates that are consistent with the literature and which I do accept in good faith, but then go on to calculate a required death rate. Nowhere have you provided real evidence that this death rate is correct and is inadequate in the real world rather than in your flawed theoretical models predicated as they are on your core belief in the degradation from a perfect genome in Eden circa Oct 4004 BC.

You nonetheless have the temerity to claim that this model is endorsed by modern populations geneticists.

When I suggest that at least one population geneticist who sees the issue as being a man made genetic crisis he then becomes “Your professor Lynch”. How insulting.

Sean as always despite your endorse of science as the source and basis of your faith you seem to manifest an underlying disdain for scientists and their integrity. In virtually any discipline we talk about you are right and they are clearly wrong. Sorry I do not trust you.

We will just have to revisit all this in 10-20 years time and see if your perspective has moved. I would hope by then you have realized that Christianity is not about science but is all about faith in the revelation of God in Jesus and our response as disciples.

Grace to you.

WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation
@Sean Pitman:

I am not arguing this I am simply saying this is what Lynch in his lecture on being elected to the academy of science was arguing if you read his paper.

Further he argues that human compared to other non-mammalian animals have greater fidelity in somatic cell replication and so have a lower rate of somatic cell mutation. What do you suppose accounts for that? Perhaps error correction mechanisms that are present in higher mammals. Do we have a complete understanding of these. I think not but does your model allow for that?

It is not that I do not trust the math but it is as in programming that other most useful area of math; GIGO.

I do not trust that you have the biology correct. As I more and more see how you read the literature I am no more sanguine.

We can argue on the math as much as we want but until you actually provide evidence of increasing deleterious gene accumulation over non-modern times I do not think we have a basis for your argument.

I would have no argument that humans are currently accumulating genetic damage but I would tend to agree with Lynch’s argument that this reflects human manipulation of the environment and removal of selection pressure that previously existed. Indeed he argues this is akin to Global warming.

WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation
@Sean Pitman: Sorry I havent responded earlier to your last missive.

We agree that natural selection is a mechanism that removed deleterious mutations in small creatures. You however continue to point to the mutations accumulating in humans and then ask me to give a mechanism for removal of deleterious mutations and more importantly near neutral mutations in long lived animals like humans. You imply that there is none and that human genetics is winding down from a perfect creation some 6000 years ago to a genetic meltdown.

You imply that the lack of published explanation is somehow the populations geneticists dirty little secret.

As usual you seem to be reading the literature with your own peculiar slant. After having looked at some of the literature I find that Lynch PNAS 2010 107:965 is simply expressing the predominant view among population geneticists when he writes:

“Dating back to Muller (49), considerable thought has been given to the potential for a cumulative buildup of the deleterious-mutation load in the human population (2, 3, 50, 51). The motivation for this concern is the enormous change in the selective environment that human behavior has induced during approximately the past century. Innovations spawned by agriculture, architecture, industrialization, and most notably a sophisticated health care industry have led to a dramatic relaxation in selection against mildly deleterious mutations, and modern medical intervention is increasingly successful in ensuring a productive lifespan even in individuals carrying mutations with major morphological, metabolic, and behavioral defects.”

How you can honestly read this as saying there is no mechanism for removal of mutations is beyond me.

They are simply saying that we are in a difficult situation as man made changes in the enviroment and heath care has removed most of the strong selection pressures that would purify a population. Ie infectious disease with historically high mortalities as both McNeil (Pagues and people) and more recent Diamond (Guns germs and steel) have cataloged.

They are not at all saying that they cannot image a mechanism for removing near neutral mutations they are saying that we have removed most of these.

Recent Comments by pauluc

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Bob Helm: With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.

You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away. It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views. It very hard to get to the science when we cannot even agree on what is science. What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous. I think Roger’s paper may well be relevant to Adventist that believe that Christianity has and must respond to a careful study of physical reality by reconsidering its interpretations of the word of the Lord, but as Sean has indicated you are exception to that characterization. I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science. It seems a bit messy to worry about facts. It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.

Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Sean Pitman: So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath

On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”

You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.

Lets for a moment step back from lala land. Where are we and where did we come from on this thread?

1] You posted a rehash of all your usual arguments in response to an article about the more mainstream Adventist positions that may impact the way Adventism reacts to conventional science. All very straight forward.
2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets. This is where it gets really strange.
3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.
4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.
5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.
6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.

I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.


Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman: sorry but your curious amalgam of magic and biology is not really comprehensible to me as a biologist or as a Christian . it. is neither logical or biologically feasible

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Sean Pitman: However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death.

And this interpretation is precisely why you need a theodicy. Where is the justice in killing all for the sake of the sins of one woman+man? It makes no sense logically. If they were conditionally immortal because of eating of the tree of life then did all the animals in all the world congregate around this tree like beasts around a water hole on the serengeti. how exactly do you as you are wont to do translate the account into a literal reality. And which beast had to come and eat. Or was it symbolic? Oh now that’s a thought.

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Sean Pitman: Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…

Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead.

Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others. Just as in the biological world so in the spiritual. By his death we have life. Just as God sanctified the practice of sacrifice of appeasement practiced by most cultures for thousands of years before and showed that in the Judeo-Christian tradition these same acts of sacrifice were emblematic of a monotheistic God that would become incarnate and bring life from death. So also he took the preceding accounts of creation derived as they were of the mesopotamian valley and recast it as an account of the monotheistic God who is above all but comes and dwells among us to become one of us. Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.

That is the message I get from the images and visions of the Canon and EG White. But of course I read it for the message that it conveys not as a scientific text. That is where we fundamentally differ.