A Teachable Moment, Almost
One of the most common metaphysical premises in evolutionary theory is the claim that similarity implies common descent. If two species share similar genes then they must share a common ancestor, from which those genes originated. Evolutionists don’t think twice about this metaphysical claim. Among friends it is taken for granted and any challenges from creationists don’t matter to begin with. Why is this claim metaphysical? Because it doesn’t come from science. There is no scientific experiment or observation that tells us that biological similarity implies common descent. And yet, in a sure sign of metaphysics at work, evolutionists are certain of this premise. Similarity must arise as a consequence of common descent. This conclusion can be trumped only by the finding of even more similarity elsewhere. And such conflicts are common. Evolutionists often need to retract earlier conclusions of relatedness, and the evolutionary tree is filled with conflicting similarities and differences.
All of this became evident, if only for an ephemeral moment, in The Great Debate – What is Life? Go to the [8:40] mark in the above video to hear the context. Craig Venter provides a brief sampling of the problems with evolution’s tree of life model to which Paul Davies incredulously asks if Venter actually doubts the tree of life (even though evolutionists have been doubting the troubled model for years).
The light at the end of the tunnel becomes brighter, however at the [11:20] mark where Richard Dawkins resumes the questioning where Davies left off. “I’m intrigued by Craig saying the tree of life is a fiction,” the evolution apologist begins. “I, I, mean the DNA code of all creatures that have ever been looked at is all but identical, and, um, surely that means that they’re all related. (pause) doesn’t it?”
Venter was smart enough to steer clear of the mud and his silent, wry smile left Dawkins’ dogma hanging in the air like liturgical incense. It was the longest second in evolutionary history as Dawkins, perhaps having a brief moment of doubt, appeared to realize that his metaphysical pronouncement was just that.
Any danger of an epiphany, however, was averted as Dawkins quickly returned to form in the next moment, condemning those stubborn creationists to which the relieved audience broke into spontaneous applause. When in doubt hit the Warfare Thesis button.
[8:40] LK: Craig, do you know from your work—do we yet know what the minimal configuration is to make life?
CV: You mean the minimum gene set.
LK: The minimum gene set.
CV: We’re whittling down on it, but there won’t be “a minimum gene set.” There will be multiple ones because—I’m not so sanguine as some of my colleagues here that there is only one life form on this planet. We have a lot of different types of metabolism, different organisms. I wouldn’t call you the same life form as the one we have that lives in pH 12 base, that would dissolve your skin if we dropped you in it.
PD: I’ve got the same genetic code, therefore a common ancestor.
CV: Well you don’t have the same genetic code. In fact the mycoplasma use a different genetic code that would not work in your cells. So there are a lot of variations on a theme.
PD: But you’re not saying it belongs to a different tree of life than me, are you?
CV: Well I think the tree of life is an artifact of some early scientific studies that aren’t really holding up. So the tree, you know, there may be a bush of life. … So there is not a tree of life. In fact from our deep sequencing of organisms in the ocean, out of, now we have about 60 million different unique gene sets, we found 12 that look like a very, very deep branching—perhaps fourth domain of life. That obviously is extremely rare, that only shows up in those few sequences. But it’s still DNA-based, but the diversity we have in the DNA world—I’m not so sanguine and ready to throw out the DNA world, I think we’re gonna, like Richard was saying, we’re gonna find the same molecules and the same base systems wherever we look.
[11:20] RD: I’m intrigued by Craig saying the tree of life is a fiction. I, I, mean the DNA code of all creatures that have ever been looked at is all but identical, and, um, surely that means that they’re all related. (pregnant silence) doesn’t it?
CV: A wry smile.
h/t: The man