Sunday, May 27, 2012

Of Turtles and the Closing of the Evolutionary Mind

The evolutionary hypothesis that the species arose according to a combination of random events and natural law—chance and necessity—is more than just the dominant paradigm of the life sciences. For about a century now evolution has been nothing less than biology’s over arching dogma—a fact to be accepted by all. Life scientists think in lock-step and no skepticism or doubt is allowed. This narrowing of view is not just an after effect, it is a powerful constraint and influence on the science, for all findings are interpreted according to the dogma. That recent study on the evolutionary origin of turtles is a typical example.

The evolution of turtles has always been a problem. First, there is no scientific explanation for how these fascinating creatures could have arisen via spontaneous events such as random mutations. And second, even if we make the heroic assumption that such an unlikely event occurred, somehow, there remains their rather awkward fit in the supposed evolutionary tree. It’s not an uncommon problem in evolutionary studies, and in the case of the turtle the paleontological, morphological and genetic data make for various contradictory results. As one writer explained:

Paleontological and morphological studies place turtles as either evolving from the ancestor of all reptiles or as evolving from the ancestor of snakes, lizards, and tuataras. Conflictingly, genetic studies place turtles as evolving from the ancestor of crocodilians and birds.

The new study purports to resolve the dilemma (they say the evidence is overwhelming that turtles evolved from a common ancestor of birds and crocodilians). And how did they solve the problem? They used the so-called UCEs (ultra conserved elements) and their flanking regions. But there is one problem: UCEs falsify evolution.

That is, at least, what one evolutionist told me years ago, before UCEs were discovered. Identical or nearly identical functionally unconstrained DNA sequences, conserved broadly across different species, would undoubtedly falsify evolution. That falsifier was discovered in the form of UCEs.

Indeed, another evolutionist exclaimed “I about fell off my chair” when seeing the UCE comparisons. Surely these absurdly conserved sequences must be utterly essential. But hundreds of tests failed to reveal their importance. In fact many of the sequences could be removed altogether with little effect.

But of course, as usual, that was Darwinian Doublespeak as we were told to move along yet again. No one so much as whispered a word of doubt about evolution and the scene returned to normal, just as in the Star Wars bar scene. Evolution is still a fact, UCEs or no UCEs.

So now, years later, UCEs not only are no longer a problem for the evolutionary mind, they may freely be used as evidence for evolution. The fact of evolution is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Evidence, no matter how contradictory, is interpreted according to evolution, and then recruited as yet more proof texts for evolution.

The turtle story is not merely another tale of contradictory data that make little sense on evolution. It is another example of the closing of the evolutionary mind.

37 comments:

  1. Hunter, it's a pleasure to watch you twist the knife over and over in the wounds of the pathetic pseudoscience called the theory of evolution. Take no quarter is what I always say.

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  2. That is, at least, what one evolutionist told me years ago, before UCEs were discovered. Identical or nearly identical functionally unconstrained DNA sequences, conserved broadly across different species, would undoubtedly falsify evolution. That falsifier was discovered in the form of UCEs.

    That's interesting. Who was that person? What weight should we give to her opinion? What exactly did she say?

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  3. "they say the evidence is overwhelming that turtles evolved from a common ancestor of birds and crocodilians"

    LOL, And exactly what did this freakish 'birdodilian' common ancestor look like? But hey if you can even imagine it existing then it must be true according to neo-Darwinists!

    As well, besides Darwinists having no demonstrated mechanism to posit such drastic change in body plan morphology from genetic mutations, as they insist must be true, is that Birds, Crocodiles, and Turtles, each appear suddenly in the fossil record with overall stasis for 'kind of animal' following thereafter:

    Bird Evolution vs. The Actual Evidence - video and notes
    http://vimeo.com/30926629

    No Evidence For Birds Evolving From Anything
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1UF3DhlUnDM0Qrwh8ZmyLJA2r9hGFvHjoXki6WTzYg5M

    100 million year old Crocodile fossil - picture
    http://www.fossil-museum.com/fossils/fosil.php?Id=665

    Ancient Fossils That Have Not Changed For Millions Of Years (Ancient crocodile included) - video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4113820

    Evidence for turtle evolution? Jerry Bergman PhD.
    Excerpt: The earliest known turtle, named Proganochelys and discovered in Germany in the 1880s, was dated by evolutionists to 210–220 million years ago.,,, Proganochelys ‘literally pops into the fossil record as a completely formed turtle.’10 Furthermore the whole chelonian body plan ‘appears in the fossil record without intermediates, and the relationship of turtles to other amniote groups is not certain.’11 Gilbert et al. concluded that the ‘absence of intermediates or transitional forms in the fossil record’, especially when the fossil record is coupled with the developmental and anatomical novelties exhibited by turtles, argues that turtles arose saltationally.12
    http://creation.com/evidence-for-turtle-evolution

    Here is a page of quotes by leading paleontologists on the true state of the fossil record:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=15dxL40Ff6kI2o6hs8SAbfNiGj1hEOE1QHhf1hQmT2Yg

    1000's of pictures of ancient 'living' fossils that have not changed for millions of years:
    http://www.fossil-museum.com/fossils/?page=0&limit=30

    Fossils Without Evolution - June 2010
    Excerpt: New fossils continue to turn up around the world. Many of them have an amazing characteristic in common: they look almost exactly like their living counterparts, despite being millions of years old,,,
    via crevo.com

    verse and music:

    Genesis 1:25
    And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

    Creed - Bullet
    http://www.youtube.com/v/KtCHFLMRX78&fs=1&source=uds&autoplay=1

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    1. Of related note:

      Tom Woodward - Fossils that embarrass evolution - Part 1 - starting at 9:00 minute mark - video
      https://vimeo.com/21187117

      Tom Woodward - Fossils - Part 2
      https://vimeo.com/21479268

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  4. Cornelius,

    In addition to Pedant's question, I'd also again point out you have yet to enlighten us as to how it's possible to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework.

    As such, you must first put these sequences into an explanatory framework before they can have any meaning in the sense you've referring.

    This is why we keep asking for your alternate explanation, because without it all you have are a number of observations which tell us nothing in particular.

    This is also relevant to your incomplete quote from Richard Leakey.

    "If you don't like the word evolution, I don't care what you call it, but life has changed. You can lay out all the fossils that have been collected and establish lineages that even a fool could work up. So the question is why, how does this happen? It's not covered by Genesis. There's no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I've read from the lips of any God."

    Again, in the absence of an alternate explanatory framework, it's unclear how these observations would have any meaning in the sense you're referring to, let alone how they falsify evolutionary theory.

    Of course, if you'd like to disclose how you've either managed to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework, or disclose which framework you actually are using, in detail, then we're all ears.

    Until then, this appears to be more of the same handwaving we see here on a regular basis.

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    1. A concrete example of this was reported "observations" of neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light.

      If mere observations alone could falsify a theory, then these "observations" of neutrinos would have immediately falsified the theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

      Yet, this didn't immediately occur, did it? The problem was, no one had an alternative explanation for these observations, from which to extrapolate them. As such, the theory wasn't immediately falsified.

      This is because, until such an alternative explanation was conceived, these observations were meaningless in respect to their impact on any theory, let alone the theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. They didn't solve any pre-existing problem. Nor did they better explain any problem that any other existing theory. As such, they were just observations.

      Now, you might assume science is the study of how God created the universe, life, etc., However, this isn't neutral. Nor is science is still based on natural theology. Rather, this assumption would represent the framework you, and your target audience, use to extrapolate observations.

      As such, it's parochial, in that it's narrow in scope.

      Furthermore, you're lack of acknowledgement, disclosure or an argument for this assumption, despite direct and explicit requests to do so, suggests you simply cannot recognize it as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

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  5. Cornelius Hunter

    But there is one problem: UCEs falsify evolution.


    Aah, that's better CH. You'd gone at least two weeks without "falsifying" ToE yet again, for the 2845th time. I was beginning to think you were slacking.

    Maybe someday you should collect all your ToE "falsifications" and publish them in a big book. Bet you'd make the Answers In Genesis best seller list.

    I don't suppose you or any of the other Creationists here could give me the "Design" explanation for the observed patterns in the turtle ancestry genetic studies, now could you? Didn't think so.

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  6. Thorton:

    I don't suppose you or any of the other Creationists here could give me the "Design" explanation for the observed patterns in the turtle ancestry genetic studies, now could you? Didn't think so.

    Whether or not someone has an alternate theory does not refute the fact that the TOE fails to explain it. Failure is the norm with the TOE.

    But it is easy to explain "the observed patterns in the turtle ancestry genetic studies" in the light of design. Some highly intelligent genetic engineer(s) took several previously designed genomes, combined them together and added some new features. The progressive design of the species is the reason that they fit within a hierarchy, the tree of life. However, unlike the brain-dead TOE, the hierarchy is not necessarily nested.

    Why is that so hard for you to grasp, Thorton?

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    1. Louis Savain

      But it is easy to explain "the observed patterns in the turtle ancestry genetic studies" in the light of design. Some highly intelligent genetic engineer(s) took several previously designed genomes, combined them together and added some new features.


      Sorry Louis, but merely saying "the Designer did it that way just because!" doesn't explain a single thing.

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    2. But saying that some random mutations and natural selection did it does? You are indeed as dense as you seem to be.

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    3. Thorton:

      Reusing preexisting components is considered good design practice. It's called modularity. The Designer of turtles was acting like a human good human designer.

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  7. Hunter's or Louis' or Scott's beliefs are on the topic of design are irrelevant if you do not understand the discipline, Thorton. You've been encouraged several times to explain your position on the matter so that further conversation may be had. You evade. That is expected. Just as you expect others to evade what you believe science to be.

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    1. The funny thing is, I do not recall you posting any criticism of the background knowledge I posted here despite being encouraged several times to do so.

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    2. Correct. Nobody else spoke to it either.

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    4. Which aspect of design are you interested in?

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    5. Generally, the root need that drives the solution.

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    6. True enough, in ID sense,is it possible to determine the need of a being who by definition has no needs.

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    7. That is indeed part of their task should they choose the pursuit. Though it is easier to describe than define. Defining declares the answer to "why," which is often out of everyone's reach.

      Many texts give an answer to the question. We are quick to question their validity though. Perhaps needfully so.

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    8. With God all things are possible,that is the problem.

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    9. Or the solution, for some.

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    10. Many, but they still go the mechanic when their car breaks. Is it God's will that the car should stay broken or God's will that it should be fixed? Or is a cigar just a cigar? Rendering unto Caesar

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    11. Smith: Generally, the root need that drives the solution.

      You do realize the need of a root is an parochial assumption, right?

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    12. As cars and cigars are wont to do. A designer may be asked, "why did you use red?" The answer should be that red, in many of its contexts, serves a purpose. Most do not seek an understanding of the red or its contexts, but pursue how they may have done it differently. Still, the purpose remains.


      re: scott
      Ask a better question.

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    13. A pity that in ID's case the Designer is unwilling to submit to direct inquiry.

      Even in dealing with known designers,purpose is elusive.

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    14. Indeed. Purpose can be very elusive. It helps when the designer states the purpose. Even that doesn't dissuade others from arbitrary assigning of pretense.

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    15. The nature of man, a bad explanation is better than none.

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    16. It is impossible to define Tao.

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    17. To know that you do not know is the best. To not know that you do not know is a defect. Now only by treating defect as defect can you be without defect. The Sage is without defect because he treats all defects as defects and so is without defect.

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    18. Very nice. Eastern wisdom, lot could be learned from that.

      It’s probably wrong to say “it’s impossible to define”, better would be “it’s elusive”.

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    19. Unless the definition is given.
      Otherwise, yes. I concur, doctor.

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  8. Poor Smith. Still sore that none of the adults will fall for his childish trolling. Pity.

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  9. I would still like to learn how UCEs falsify evolution.

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    1. Uh, are you kidding me? UCEs show that certain genes/sequences did not change for hundreds of millions of years even though the theory of evolution predicted they should have. Random mutations are random, right?

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    2. Yes, mutations are random...

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  10. Savain:

    Random mutations are random, right?

    Are you (and Hunter) forgetting that mutations which negatively affect fitness are filtered out by natural selection?

    For some examples of the evolution of noncoding UCEs, see the following paper:

    Positive and negative selection in murine ultraconserved noncoding elements.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21478460

    Also, a PubMed search of "ultraconserved elements" yields recent papers, like the one quoted in Hunter's OP, that exploit UCEs in phylogenetic studies. They are turning out to be very useful.

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