Comment on WASC Reviews LSU’s Accreditation by Sean Pitman.
They do not teach the Sanford theory of declining genetic quality because it has no experimental basis and as such does not rate a mention in molecular biology or population genetics. It has never been published in the scientific literature and has been critiqued in the popular literature by competent people who have more time than me.
I don’t think you understand population genetics or the qualitative nature of the mutational changes that affect gene pools like you think you do. Mutational change over time is overwhelmingly detrimental – devolutionary if you will. The fact that detrimental mutations far outpace beneficial mutations over generations is published in scientific literature (not just popular literature). There really is no argument on this point in the scientific community.
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. While there have been some feeble attempts in literature to try to explain how this might happen, these attempts all have fundamental flaws that do not substantively address the problem – which is what well-known scientists like John Sandford and several others rightly point out.
These facts of science have important implications that should be presented to our own students in our own schools…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Phil Brantley and Professor Kent argue that SDA beliefs are based on Sola Scriptura–God’s word alone. We agree with the official SDA position, voted by the General Conference in session, that Scripture must not be subject to criticism and external validation. When empiricial evidence, human reason, and science conflict with God’s word, faithful SDAs must accept God’s word at face value.
Nowhere has the General Conference voted that Adventists must believe the Bible “at face value” without any empirical evidential support for its claim to be the Word of God. That’s a complete fabrication and makes no rational sense to boot.
Can the indwelling Holy Spirit convict the soul, or is the Comforter utterly incapable of this, as some apparently suggest?
The Holy Spirit convicts the soul of sin, of the difference between moral right and wrong since the moral law is written upon the hearts of all.
The Holy Spirit also aids the mind in its search for empirical truth. However, the Holy Spirit does not take away one’s ability to think and reason when it comes to determining that the Bible’s claim to Divine origin and authority is superior to other persons and texts that make the very same claim – like the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon.
We are called to used our God-given minds and powers of reason to search out the Scriptures and validate them to see if what they claim is really true. Contrary to the claims of the popular emergent church, we are not called to simply rely on what we imagine the Holy Spirit is telling us completely independent of the use of our brains and what rational thought God has given us to search out and investigate what is and is not most likely true in such matters. The Holy Spirit helps our minds to search out truth. He does not replace our minds or the effort necessary to actual search out truth for ourselves.
As I have mentioned before, my Latter-day Saints friends tell me exactly the same thing you’re suggesting here. They tell me that they know that the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible because, get this, the Holy Spirit tells them so.
How then do you know that the spirit that is speaking to you is really the Holy Spirit? and not the impressions of your own mind or some other spirit besides the Holy Spirit? How do you know that you’re right and my LDS friends are wrong when both of you are making exactly the same claim to understanding truth by direct communication with the Holy Spirit? – yet being told conflicting things? Does this not give you the slightest pause?
How you can honestly read this as saying there is no mechanism for removal of mutations is beyond me.
So, the powers of natural selection have been thwarted by modern humans? And that is why we are now heading downhill?
You don’t understand the math Pauluc. While nature selection works to some extent to remove detrimental mutations, the death rate that would be required for natural selection to actually remove detrimental mutations as fast as they are entering the gene pools of creatures with low rates of offspring production is far far greater than could have been tolerated at any time, past or present, by such creatures.
I mean really, we’re talking about a required minimum death rate that is greater than 99.5% of all offspring before reproduction – just to keep up with the known detrimental mutation rate. No human population, at any point in time, could have ever tolerated such a high death rate…
Obviously, species B has “slower” reproduction over a finite period of time (say, 100 years), but as I suggested, what you are probably referring to as “slowly reproducing” is number of progeny per individual or generation, which would make species A and B equal. Again, your usage of “slowly reproducing” is ambiguous.
I’ve not been ambiguous at all. I’ve specifically defined the reproductive rate I’m talking about several times in this thread as the number of offspring an individual can produce per generation.
The generation time itself is largely irrelevant to the problem of natural selection effectively removing detrimental mutations from the gene pool – as already explained above. The same is true for various forms of epistasis that you’ve also suggested as a potential solution to this problem (as noted in the illustration below):
Now which gene pool do you think can respond more quickly to a changing environment? A or B? If you have a 10 year drought, which gene pool is likely to be hit harder and which is more likely to emerge with a changed gene pool? Do you seriously believe generation time is irrelevant to natural selection?
You’re not understanding the problem in play here. Your scenario has nothing to do with dealing with an increasing detrimental mutation load with each generation. It doesn’t matter what the generation time is or what environmental factors are in play. The detrimental mutation rate will increase faster than the load of detrimental mutations can be eliminated by natural selection as long as the individual reproductive rate, per generation, is too slow to keep up with the death rate that is required by natural selection to effectively eliminate the detrimental mutation load for that generation.
Research on deleterious mutations has FAR outpaced research on beneficial mutations, and we have MUCH to learn about the latter.
Now this is interesting – and would solve the problem nicely if it were actually true that the beneficial mutations occur rapidly enough to offset the detrimental mutations that enter a gene pool. But, do you have any evidence that the beneficial mutation rate is remotely able to compensate for the detrimental mutation rate? As far as I’m aware it is quite clear that the detrimental mutation rate so far outpaces the beneficial mutation rate that there really is no comparison. If you know better, by all means present your evidence. Otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke.
Aruging that future discoveries my falsify my hypothesis is certainly possible, but it isn’t science until you actually have such data in hand.
Again, your simplistic mathematical models focussed on deleterious mutations do not take into consideration a realistic understanding of how natural selection works. The more you write, the more I question your overall understanding of natural selection.
Please do explain to me how natural selection works contrary to anything I’ve said? – using actual data that is currently known. How do any of your arguments actually address the problem of the detrimental mutatation rate in creatures that only produce a handful of offspring per generation?
So why can’t you show me some evidence that species similar to species A are closer to approaching genetic meltdown than species similar to species B?
How does the generation time have anything at all to do with the load of near-neutral detrimental mutations in a gene pool? – or how close or how far away a gene pool is from the threshold level of detrimental mutations necessary to trigger genetic meltdown? I fail to see any significant relationship…
The amount of time a particular species lives before reproducing has little to do with how effective natural selection may or may not be at removing detrimental mutations from that particular gene pool over a given number of generations. What really matters is the death rate that is required to keep up with the detrimental mutation rate over an extended period of time (regardless of if the environment changes or not). Surviving a sudden change in the environment is essentially irrelevant to how many near-neutral detrimental mutations also survived as well.
Sure, in your scenario “Species A”, having a shorter generation time, will be more likely able to quickly adapt to a new environment. But what does this have to do with the elimination of the genomic load of detrimental mutations? Nothing! Nothing at all.
You do realize also that the detrimental mutation rate is largely independent of the generation time? – that the essentially the same number of mutations hit creatures with long generation times as they do those with short generation times? In other words, creatures with shorter generation times have correspondingly higher mutation rates over a given span of time. That means that the per generation mutation rates are fairly similar between species with both long and short generation times (at least similar enough for the purposes of this particular discussion).
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…