Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mutations can't save the cheetah because all they do is kill; most of them kill DNA itself over time

Here's another post from that EvC thread where the cheetah example came up that I discuss a couple posts below:

This is from creationist Slevesque, who started the thread:

What I was saying was: The % of functioning genome has been ever increasing in the past few years, as I'm sure you know. Right now, anyone can safely say that at least 30% of the genome is functional.

What I said concerning ENCODE was simply that it ''opened up the possibility'' that the entire genome had a function. I'm not saying it proved anything, and I certainly know the difference between functional and transcribed.

Therefore, all I'm saying is that when seeing how genetics has been unravelling the secrets of previously thought ''junk DNA'', and how more evidence comes to open the possibility that maybe the whole genome is functional, I think it is the idea that any part of the genome is junk that should be regarder with great skepticism, not the other way around.

I haven't followed the whole thread so I don't really know where this fits in, but just to answer what is written here, it seems to me this supposed discovery that some junk DNA is "functional" simply reflects the fact that some of it hasn't TOTALLY lost its function, it's just been crippled, not killed.

An accumulation of mutational disruptions of the code along the length of a gene over generations eventually has to render it less and less functional although it may retain SOME function, and this is most likely all that has been discovered.

Of course the whole genome was once completely and perfectly functional, but the processes of disease and death have been rendering it less and less functional down the generations.

I think slevesque is making a very common mistake that creationists, especially Intelligent Design creationists, often make, that is, not to recognize that dead DNA reflects the Biblical Fall. The whole genome is not NOW functional and it shouldn't be if the Fall is true. The Fall is still operating, at all levels of life, still accumulating death and disease from generation to generation.

It's testimony to the immense vitality of the original Creation that there's still a lot of life left in God's created world, but no matter how much life they discover remaining in the junk DNA it isn't going to be the original life that it was created to have, but something like haphazard spasms of its original life.

ALSO, the idea that deleterious mutations will be wiped out of the population by natural selection is no doubt true -- another notion that always comes up in these discussions, and on this thread as well -- as long as there are viable genes in the population at large that survive and get passed on. However, what is not being taken into account in this cheery scenario is that ALL death in a population contributes to the gradual reduction of genetic diversity over time, just as all the selection processes do, just as anything that isolates a portion of a population does.

ALSO, there is no reason for "neutral" mutations to be selected out so they continue in the population even though they represent a segment of dead DNA that means SOME function or other has been destroyed or crippled. As genes accumulate more mutational assaults down the generations, eventually they contribute to the DNA cemetery or junk DNA although the organisms go on apparently functioning, and there is simply no way to know what was lost. A whole population eventually comes to carry these cemeteries in their DNA although they apparently continue to function without them, though no doubt in an increasingly disease-prone condition.

Since we don't know what the original Creation was like we can't appreciate what has been lost, but it would certainly help if science weren't addicted to this idea of evolution and could get focused on the reality of gradual degeneration over time or the reality is going to rise up and bite them in the end (in both senses of the word). Reality is always a nice thing for science to keep in mind.

Do Creationists Really LIE? Not that I've seen yet, and some of the accusation comes from evolutionism's conjuring "science" out of fantasy

I asked an evolution defender to give examples of what he calls "lies" by creationists, a common accusation from evolutionists at EvC too, although I've never seen anything I'd call a lie.

Here's what he said:
You know that old joke about lawyers? "How do you know when a lawyer is lying?" Answer: "When his lips are moving." It's basically like that with creationists, but with respect to misrepresentation/distortion of evolution (although, I'm sure for many that it's not so much intentional as just blindly and thoughtlessly repeating the words/ideas of others in their cultural circles). Frankly, it's pretty much anything and everything said by creationists on the topic of evolution that is wrong. In my experience, there is virtually no understanding of it whatsoever, and its presentation is grossly distorted every time it is discussed.

The comments in this very thread present numerous examples of this type of thing---such as B I's post above, right here on this page. He fails to understand how science works, why evolution is accepted by the scientific community, and what that means (i.e. what the realistic expectations are), and a number of other things. For example, some of the 'problems' he presents are plausibly explained in general terms by well-known evolutionary ideas, even if the specific details are not filled-in in minute detail (yet). Take all of #14: none of it would be presented as any sort of fundamental, fatal problem if the concept of co-evolution were understood. And this kind of thing is made even more ridiculous by others in fundamental Christianity through such asinine questions as, "Which came first: males or females?" The question itself positively screams lack of evolutionary understanding, and I've heard it a number of times from various Christian sources. As I have said before, some of the anti-evolutionary ideas I've heard in Christian circles are so incredibly over-the-top absurd that even a few fundamentalist Christian institutions have denounced them and said not to use them. Yet, I routinely continue to hear them.

Oh, here's a real gem I saw on TV a while back on population calculations, causing me to cringe in embarrassment for the "advanced intelligence" of the human species. It was a fundamentalist Christian show (channel, actually) that brought on an "expert" to talk about population growth and extrapolation. The distilled idea was this: if you take the simple population growth equation (such as p=c*e^(kt)), plug in the numbers for humans and extrapolate, then you can get a reasonable answer for starting with a single man and woman pair about six thousand years ago and arriving at today's population; whereas, if you plug in "the scientists'" ideas of billions of years, etc, then you get a ridiculous number of a population enormously outnumbering all the atoms in the universe. Voila! Young-Earth creation supported; old Earth science disproved! (Can you see how this type of thing makes scientists want to tear their hair out in frustration, especially since people just idiotically and uncritically accept this kind of thing as powerful 'disproof'?)

I could, quite literally, write an entire book on all the horrific distortions I have seen and heard with respect to evolution and the various related sciences that contradict Young-Earth Creationism.

(Another 'great' one: If humans came from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys? /cringe)
And here's what I answered:
Thanks for your answer. I'm going to keep asking evolutionists that question because I really don't see any LIES in anything you pointed to or in anything I've seen anywhere for that matter but I want to be sure I know what is being referred to.

A misunderstanding of how evolution works, such as in the famous monkey mistake, isn't a LIE and it's not fair to call it that. A lie is an intentional untruth, of course. Do you really mean to class all these examples as lies? I'm glad you do say you think most of it is probably unintentional, but I haven't yet seen ONE creationist idea I'd call an actual lie. I'm not saying it's not possible, just haven't seen it yet.

"Horrific distortions" could probably be documented as I know there are some pretty silly creationist arguments, but I also suspect that many of those "horrific distortions" are seen through evolutionist bias, failing to get the point the creationist is trying to make. In any case "distortion" is not synonymous with "lie."

I'm sorry, I really don't see your objection to the population argument. Surely whatever rate of population growth is established by evolutionists WOULD produce drastically different totals over millions of years versus a few thousand. Did he misapply the math in your judgment or what?

As for your answer to B I:
For example, some of the 'problems' he presents are plausibly explained in general terms by well-known evolutionary ideas, even if the specific details are not filled-in in minute detail (yet). Take all of #14: none of it would be presented as any sort of fundamental, fatal problem if the concept of co-evolution were understood.
[This fits with my argument in the previous post that evolutionism can just morph in any direction to answer a challenge as it's all just fantasy] This is a typical conflict between the two sides of this argument. The key is in your own phrase, "plausibly explained." Co-evolution is merely a handy theory, a plausible explanation, given to account for something that on the face of it does look lethal for the theory of evolution. It seems that there is no dearth of possible theories available to "explain" the problems. Will you agree that it IS just a theory, please? A plausible construction and nothing more. The creationist observes something that looks like a big problem and the evolutionist answers with -- a plausible possible explanation. Not facts, not with anything that could be established by scientific method, experiment etc.

Most of this whole argument is between such plausible constructions. The DNA of apes and humans is quite similar so evolutionists leap to the explanation that this proves genetic relatedness. It doesn't. It just as well proves design similarity and nothing more. Can't you see this? Most of this is a war between alternative plausibilities and the only thing that makes the evolutionist plausibility more "scientific" is that it is accepted by scientists.

And that's because by now evolution has accumulated such an overwhelming collection of these mere plausibilities that it looks like it's really onto something. But they are just plausibilities, imaginative constructs, or theory of you prefer. It's now an immense structure made up of one mere plausible explanation giving "scientific" support to another.

So, I see mistakes and distortions but also simply different explanations for the data on both sides, neither of which has any actual scientific standing, though the evolutionist explanation is given the imprimatur of the establishment.

Maybe you could still come up with an example of an actual lie?

How the cheetah, living proof that evolution is not possible, becomes just another figment of the evolutionist imagination

Hey, I'm honored, mentioned by Iblis in a post at EvC, of course the usual nonsense argument and I'm not there to defend myself but that's OK. There is no defending yourself at EvC if you're a creationist. The thing about evolutionism is that it can morph in any direction it likes in order to answer you because it's all a fantasy. If you say something that seems to challenge the theory, amoeba-like it just extends a pseudopod to gobble up the challenge -- glurrrp -- and everybody's happy.

And this is a case in point.

Faith used to back her affected agrument by incredulity with specious appeals to "genetic meltdown". Her favorite example was the amazing cheetah.
Lessee, of course you must use all the most derogatory terms you can think of to poison the well against the argument for starters, such as "affected" and "specious," to be sure nobody could possibly think the argument had any merit. Oh and be sure to call it an "argument by incredulity" even though it is no such thing -- that's SUCH a no-no.

I also don't recall ever using the term "genetic meltdown" so it shouldn't be in quotes in reference to my argument.

Now he goes on in a way that is rather hard to follow, kind of a word salad approach that serves mostly to obscure and in any case doesn't get anywhere near the argument I was always trying to make by referring to the cheetah:
He's had it rough as the poster-child for reduction of genetic diversity. Due to depopulation, isolation and inbreeding his genetic variability is so low that skin grafts between unrelated animals do not result in immunological rejection! And so on, there are a lot of lovely fables in this area.
IS that a fable? I don't think I ever used that particular example but everything I've read about the cheetah does say that the genetic variability IS so low that individuals are almost like clones of one another. Is he trying to dispute that even after declaring it?
But contrary to popular belief, this is nothing new for the cheetah.
Contrary to popular belief? Whose belief? I never said it was "new?" What does its being new or old have to do with anything? The point is that the cheetah is a prime example of extremely reduced genetic variability. He seems to affirm this yet also try to deny it. This is a very confused piece of writing.

Well, now here comes the Evo Fairy Tale. Get some popcorn, pull up a chair:
It began thousands of years ago, toward the end of last ice age,
Yes, long long ago ...
in a fairly ordinary genetic bottleneck.

... in a land far far away ...

Did anyone ever suggest the bottleneck was not "ordinary?" The point about a bottleneck is that it eliminates a bunch of genes all at once, leaving a very few individuals to form a new population with the reduced genetic variability they share, whether it's an "ordinary" or extraordinary bottleneck, whatever that might be.
And as result of this process, the cheetah has become the least "feline" of all the big cats.
Well, it has a smallish head as felines go but otherwise it's plenty feline it seems to me. But apparently saying it's less "feline" is supposed to imply that it's an example of evolution. Sigh. Are we getting anywhere with this little dissertation? Doesn't it seem to be wandering around trying to obscure the issue?

So now we go from this completely subjective notion that it's less feline looking to this HUGE jump:
In another million years or so, he may look something like this [here we get a picture of -- a hyena? A doglike animal with some cheetah-like coloring and markings]
Oh brother. Because the cheetah just sort of looks less feline to this guy it's evolving and is going to look even less feline in a million years. Sigh.

The point about such drastically reduced genetic variability is that EVOLUTION HAS COME TO A STOP. That is the point of using the cheetah as an example. The cheetah is NOT EVOLVING. It's reached a genetic dead end. When you have no new genetic possibilities there is simply no direction in which the animal COULD evolve. It goes on producing individuals that hardly vary at all from each other, to the point that they are truly like clones. You CANNOT GET EVOLUTION FROM THAT POINT.

A bottleneck is what happens when for some reason you have just a few individuals inbreeding among themselves to form a new variation of a species. A bottleneck is simply the most drastic way animals get "selected" -- randomly in this case -- and isolated, these being the "mechanisms" or conditions that bring about new gene frequencies, which is supposedly the basis for evolution. And it IS, it is the basis for MICROevolution, or the variation that commonly occurs from generation to generation in any species. If part of a population gets isolated from the rest it develops characteristics to some extent different from the former population with its own reduced gene pool. But it WILL have a reduced gene pool, it WILL have reduced genetic variability compared to the previous population. A bottleneck will simply bring about a DRASTICALLY reduced genetic variability compared to the usual reduction because it involves so few individuals. This is what makes such examples the best for making the point about how evolution comes to an end by simply following out the normal processes that create new varieties, or microevolution. ALL reduced populations tend in the same direction of reduced genetic variability but the extremely reduced populations are where you see the tendency itself in action, where it's hardest to ignore it, the tendency, that is, toward the complete inability to evolve further somewhere down the road.

Of course fantasy can surmount any obstacle thrown up by reality, and here we have Iblis totally ignoring this point and assuming that the cheetah is going to go on evolving although it doesn't have the genetic means to go on evolving:
The misadventures of these fellows actually provides the key to your whole puzzle. You see, when the gene pool is large and conditions remain stable, the overwhelming majority of even the effective, non-neutral mutations are quickly lost in the shuffle. They are outnumbered and as they provide no selection advantage, there is no reason for them to be preserved.
If mutations are going on at the rate they assume, then there is no such thing as their not having an effect. A mutation is a change in a gene, it is a substitution of a new coding sequence for another. If it has no effect all that means is that it has no detectable effect, no effect that they know of. But the very fact that a coding part of the DNA has been changed means that SOMETHING HAS CHANGED in whatever that segment formerly coded for. It can't be a good thing that a formerly coding sequence no longer codes for whatever it used to code for. At the very least something has been killed, some part of the organism no longer functions, a very tiny hardly discernible part no doubt, something beneath the detection capacity of the instruments available, but how can the death of a coding portion of DNA ever be just "neutral?" And most mutations supposedly have this non-effect. But that means that most mutations are killing off genes coding bit by coding bit. This is no doubt how "junk DNA" gets formed and there's an awful awful lot of junk DNA in the genome of most creatures, certainly the human genome. But that's a whole nother subject.
When the gene pool is greatly reduced however, either due to large-scale changes in the environment in terms of selection factors or to the spreading out of outliers of a population into a new area or niche, this changes. The cow's primary source of genetic diversity is, other cows with somewhat different genes.
Exactly, this is how genetic diversity is maintained in most large populations of any animal. Individuals vary from each other, they have different genetic possibilities that can combine with those of other individuals to create the variation that shows up in the next generation.
The cheetah's, though, is mutation.
Uh huh. Mutation is the only thing left to the cheetah, and this is true. But consider the RATE situation now. How many of the expectable mutations provide any kind of change that could be useful to the animal? Actually, it's pretty much zip. You get all those "neutral" mutations and you get deleterious mutations. Those are known. The useful ones are purely imaginary.
Each new trait produced by mutation is valuable to a reduced species and likely to be preserved
Pure fantasy. There ARE no new "traits" known to be produced by mutation. All that is KNOWN to be produced are degenerative changes and "neutral" changes, that, as I point out above, aren't really neutral because they DESTROY genes.
resulting in large-scale morphological changes over a relatively short period of time. Still in the high thousands and millions though.
Man these guys love their theory. They NEVER have to come down to reality and actually PROVE anything, they're quite content to affirm the fairy tale of beneficial mutations that drive evolution even in the face of EVIDENCE that, as in the case of the cheetah, evolution is simply no longer possible.
And this is the main factor underlying Gould's "punctuated equilibrium". For ten million years, everything is fine. Then things change; and when they do, things change. Eerie. But not mysterious, simple statistics.
Eventually you'd think a brain would simply implode from the strain of having to invent all those fictions to support all the imaginary notions that support the imaginary theory.

But thanks for the mention, Iblis, gave me the opportunity to restate my favorite argument.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

God of Wonders

I just love this face, that's why I put it here.

But also it gives me the opportunity to mention that a creationist's view of the world can make you ponder the mind of the Creator, and sometimes just wonder what He can be like, a Creator who would come up with such a creature as this for instance. This creature is delightful in my opinion -- just want to kiss that silly inquisitive face (he'd probably peck me or kick me to death of course) -- but there are some that make my hair stand on end just thinking about an intelligent Being's actually creating them. While kittens and puppies make Him a God who loves what humans easily love, some creatures -- rhinoceros, tarantula, crocodile, wolverine, Tasmanian devil -- impress me with the Otherness of God, even the fearsomeness of God. Even this ostrich face makes me wonder, How did you come up with THIS?