Religion drives science, and it matters.
This pattern, known as “early high disparity,” turns the traditional V-shaped cone model of evolution on its head. What is equally surprising in our findings is that groups of animals are likely to show early-high disparity regardless of when they originated over the last half a billion years.
Our work implies that there must be constraints on the range of forms within animal groups, and that these limits are often hit relatively early on. The only exceptions to the rule are groups that were wiped out at times of mass extinction.
Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce. No one understood this better than Darwin. Ernst Mayr has shown how Darwin, in defending evolution, consistently turned to organic parts and geographic distributions that make the least sense.
How does God’s plan for humans and sharks require them to have almost identical embryos? [Douglas Futuyma, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution, p. 48]
The passage through a fishlike stage by the embryos of the higher vertebrates is not explained by creation, but is readily accounted for as an evolutionary relic. [Tim Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, p. 22]
Now, we’re not absolutely sure why some species retain much of their evolutionary history during development. The “adding new stuff onto old” principle is just a hypothesis—and explanation for the facts of embryology. It’s hard to prove that it was easier for a developmental program to evolve one way rather than another. But the facts of embryology remain, and make sense only in light of evolution. [Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution is True, p. 78-9]
Initially, before the proteins are consolidated, the refractive index -- you can think of it as the density -- inside the lamellae and outside, which is really the outside water environment, is the same. There's no optical difference so there's no reflection. But when the proteins consolidate, this increases the refractive index so the contrast between the inside and outside suddenly increases, causing the stack of lamellae to become reflective, while at the same time they dehydrate and shrink, which causes color changes. The animal can control the extent to which this happens -- it can pick the color -- and it's also reversible. The precision of this tuning by regulating the nanoscale dimensions of the lamellae is amazing.
Squids have used their tunable iridescence for camouflage and communication for millions of years; materials scientists have more recently looked to them for inspiration to develop new “biologically inspired” adaptive optics. Iridocyte cells produce iridescence through constructive interference of light with intracellular Bragg reflectors. The cell’s dynamic control over the apparent lattice constant and dielectric contrast of these multilayer stacks yields the corresponding optical control of brightness and color across the visible spectrum. Here, we resolve remaining uncertainties in iridocyte cell structure and determine how this unusual morphology enables the cell’s tunable reflectance. We show that the plasma membrane periodically invaginates deep into the iridocyte to form a potential Bragg reflector consisting of an array of narrow, parallel channels that segregate the resulting high refractive index, cytoplasmic protein-containing lamellae from the low-index channels that are continuous with the extracellular space. In response to control by a neurotransmitter, the iridocytes reversibly imbibe or expel water commensurate with changes in reflection intensity and wavelength. These results allow us to propose a comprehensive mechanism of adaptive iridescence in these cells from stimulation to color production. Applications of these findings may contribute to the development of unique classes of tunable photonic materials.
But because throughout the universe from time everlasting countless numbers of [atoms], buffeted and impelled by blows, have shifted in countless ways, experimentation with every kind of movement and combination has at last resulted in arrangements such as those that created and compose our world.
That in no wise the nature of all things
For us was fashioned by a power divine-
So great the faults it stands encumbered with.
Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce. No one understood this better than Darwin. Ernst Mayr has shown how Darwin, in defending evolution, consistently turned to organic parts and geographic distributions that make the least sense. [Stephen J. Gould, 1980]
You can now think about these lncRNAs as a way to bring together genes that are needed for common function into a single physical region and then regulate them as a set, rather than individually. They are not just scaffolds of proteins but actual organizers of genes.
LncRNAs, unlike proteins, really can use their genomic information—their context, their location—to act, to bring together targets. That makes them quite unique.
Before Xist is activated, X-chromosome genes are all spread out. But, the researchers found, once Xist is turned on, it quickly pulls in genes, forming a cloud. “And it’s not just that the expression levels of Xist get higher and higher,” Guttman says. “It’s that Xist brings in all of these related genes into a physical nuclear structure. All of these genes then occupy a single territory.”
The mammalian transcriptome contains many non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), but most of these are of unclear significance and lack strong sequence conservation, prompting suggestions that they might be non-functional. However, certain long functional ncRNAs such as Air and Xist are also poorly conserved. In this article, we systematically analyzed the conservation of several groups of functional ncRNAs, including miRNAs, snoRNAs and longer ncRNAs whose function has been either documented or confidently predicted. As expected, miRNAs and snoRNAs were highly conserved. By contrast, the longer functional non-micro, non-sno ncRNAs were much less conserved with many displaying rapid sequence evolution. Our findings suggest that longer ncRNAs are under the influence of different evolutionary constraints and that the lack of conservation displayed by the thousands of candidate ncRNAs does not necessarily signify an absence of function.
There was once widespread agreement about phlogiston (a nonexistent element said to be a crucial part of combustion), eugenics, the impossibility of continental drift, the idea that genes were made of protein (not DNA) and stomach ulcers were caused by stress, and so forth—all of which proved false. Science, Richard Feynman once said, is “the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
We can read in the genes exactly the whole history of life. And we’re gradually understanding all of that, and it absolutely confirms there’s descent with modification with natural selection, and all these things that Darwin said. There’s plenty of room for disagreement about the details. It’s not one dogmatic theory, there’s a whole bunch of theories.
The first thing they should do when they see a consensus is try and shoot it down. But there is no question that all creatures on this planet are [evolutionarily] related. We can see that in the genes. They all share the same genetic code—it looks like a frozen accident. There’s no rhyme or reason why we have the particular genetic code we do. But bacteria have it, we have it, plants have it—it’s all connected.
Skeptic: How do you explain the switch from asexual reproduction to sexual reproduction?
Sagan: First off, let me say that, that in no way challenges the validity of biological evolution, whether we’re able or unable to explain the fact that many species, by no means all, reproduce sexually today. The Darwinian concept of evolution and natural selection is profoundly verified, not just by the fossil record, not just by the clear experience of artificial selection, but by the record in the nucleic acids, which is obtained by DNA sequencing, in which we can see the similarities and differences of organisms, and trace their evolutionary past—their history.
“We think him a better Artist that makes a Clock that strikes regularly at every hour from the Springs and Wheels which he puts in the work, than he that hath so made his Clock that he must put his finger to it every hour to make it strike.” Thomas Burnet, 1681
“Newton and his followers also have a very odd opinion regarding God’s workmanship. According to them, God’s watch—the universe—would stop working if he didn’t re-wind it from time to time! He didn’t have enough foresight to give it perpetual motion. This machine that he has made is so imperfect that from time to time he has to clean it by a miraculous intervention, and even has to mend it, as a clockmaker mends his work. The oftener a clockmaker has to adjust his machine and set it right, the clumsier he must be as a clockmaker!” Gottfried Leibniz, 1715
God would not “set his own hand as it were to every work, and immediately do all the meanest and trifling’st things himself drudgingly, without making use of any inferior or subordinate Minister.” John Ray, 1717
It is most appropriate to the wisdom of God that the cosmic structures “develop themselves in an unforced succession out of the universal laws.” Immanuel Kant, 1755
“A perpetual war is kindled amongst all living creatures,” and nature is so arranged so as “to embitter the life of every living being.” David Hume, 1779
“The world itself might have been generated, rather than created; that is, it might have been gradually produced from very small beginnings, increasing by the activity of its inherent principles, rather than by a sudden evolution by the whole by the Almighty fiat. What a magnificent idea of the infinite power of the great architect! The Cause of Causes! Parent of Parents! Ens Entium! For if we may compare infinities, it would seem to require a greater infinity of power to cause the causes of effects, than to cause the effects themselves.” Erasmus Darwin, 1794
“How can we suppose an immediate exertion of this creative power at one time to produce the zoophytes, another time to add a few marine mollusks, another to bring in one or two crustacea, again to crustaceous fishes, again perfect fishes, and so on to the end. This would surely be to take a very mean view of the Creative Power.” Robert Chambers, 1844
“No inductive inquirer can bring himself to believe in the existence of any real hiatus in the continuity of physical laws in past eras more than in the existing order of things; or to imagine that changes, however seemingly abrupt, can have been brought about except by the gradual agency of some regular causes. On such principles the whole superstructure of rational geology entirely reposes; to deny them in any instance would be to endanger all science. … The event [the introduction of new species] is part of a regularly ordained mechanism of the evolution of the existing world out of former conditions, and as much subject to regular laws as any changes now taking place.” Baden Powell, 1855
“these analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations.” Charles Darwin, 1859
“The strange springs and traps and pitfalls found in the flowers of Orchids cannot be necessary per se, since exactly the same end is gained in ten thousand other flowers which do not possess them. Is it not then an extraordinary idea to imagine the Creator of the Universe contriving the various complicated parts of these flowers as a mechanic might contrive an ingenious toy or a difficult puzzle? Is it not a more worthy conception that they are some of the results of those general laws which were so co-ordinated at the first introduction of life upon the earth as to result necessarily in the utmost possible development of varied forms?” –Alfred Wallace, 1870
“If whales were made at once out of hand as we now see them, is it conceivable that these useless teeth would have been given them?” –Joseph Le Conte, 1891
“What we do not know today we shall know tomorrow.” Alexander Oparin, 1924
“Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history.” Stephen Jay Gould, 1980
“The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Carl Sagan, 1980
Would God “really want to take credit for the mosquito?” Ken Miller, 1999
“There are too many deficiencies, too much cruelty in the world of life. To assume that they have been explicitly created by God amounts to blasphemy. I believe God to be omniscient and benevolent. The ‘design’ of organisms is not compatible with such beliefs.” Francisco Ayala, 2002