Monday, May 21, 2012

No novel features, no new information, no evolution

There is another thread at EvC which is basically about the question of whether evolutionary processes can produce new genetic information, but this one is not on the level of the genetics but the phenotype or the traits governed by the genetics. The question is How do "novel" features evolve? I've pretty much lost interest in this question from either angle but thought I'd note this post by Taq which more or less summarizes his view of the whole dispute:
Zaius has once again shown us why creationist claims are useless. They claim that novel features must emerge through evolutionary mechanisms in order to produce the biodiversity we see today. So what would happen if we were able to travel back in time to watch every single generation from the first life to modern life, mapping each and every mutation? At every step the creationist would claim that no novel features evolved, ever.
This pretty much shows that the whole argument is on such a hypothetical level that all the calls for evidence are simply futile -- no evidence could possibly exist for such fanciful guesswork and either side can say anything at all in defense of his position.

So I might as well give my own view of what would happen in the case he describes. If we COULD go back to the beginning of life and map each and every mutation we wouldn't see evolution at all, we'd see exactly what we see today, separated Species or Kinds that vary among themselves and never produce novel features or new genetic information because they never produce anything but their own Kind or Species. From the beginning of life we would see the same Species we see today though perhaps very different varieties of them, plus some Species we don't see today because they've become extinct. On the genetic level at first we wouldn't see many mutations but as the generations succeed one another we would start to see an increase. Mutations alter the genetics of the creature, either producing a genetic disease or not affecting the phenotype in any observable way. Yes, we WOULD claim that no novel features evolved ever because they don't. They never did.
The truth of the matter is that evolution does not need to produce novel features, as defined by creationists, in order to produce the biodiversity we see today. In their attempt to falsify evolution they have moved the goal posts off the field. "Novel feature" is a meaningless term as defined by creationists. "Novel feature" is a hole in the sand where they place their head.
Actually it's not. This particular question really ought to be focused on whether or not mutation is observed to produce new genes, not just new alleles but whole new genes, because that is at a minimum what "new information" implies -- again, at a minimum -- and what is needed if "novel" features could emerge. And novel features must emerge if a Species or Kind could evolve into another Species or Kind.
What does evolution need to produce? Heritable phenotypic change. Does it do that? Yep. Mutations produce changes in phenotype that are heritable, and the frequency of these new alleles is controlled by environmental pressures. Whether anyone names this change "novel" or not is completely irrelevant.
So here we are back at the evolutionist's reiteration of the evolutionist creed: what we observe happening is all that is needed to bring about evolution from one species to another, the great Faith or Fantasy that runs the whole show. They see normal variation within Species and make the mental leap that can never be subjected to evidentiary proof, that evolution is simply normal variation continued without interruption for millions or billions of years.

But let's unpack this statement. He says evolution needs to produce heritable phenotypic change and that it does that. How does he know that EVOLUTION does this? He sees heritable phenotypic change in nature and simply subsumes it under his evolutionist preconception. He assumes evolution and appropriates observable facts of nature to it. That's how it always works. That's the "scientific" procedure of evolutionism right there. Evolution is assumed and whatever is observed is mentally jammed into it. Evidence for any of this is nonexistent, it's all mental gymnastics. But heritable phenotypic change is just as well explained by the creationist assumption instead. Such change is simply the variations that occur within Species, or sometimes known as "microevolution." There is no evidence whatever that such change is open-ended as evolutionists assume, and as I will argue below, as I always do, there is evidence that there is a limit to such changes that confines them to the boundaries of a Species or Kind.
Mutations produce changes in phenotype that are heritable, and the frequency of these new alleles is controlled by environmental pressures. Whether anyone names this change "novel" or not is completely irrelevant
Mutations do produce heritable phenotypic changes, but it is one huge unproven assumption that the mutations create new alleles for viable healthy phenotypic traits; what HAS been proven many many times is that mutations have produced thousands of genetic diseases. It is pure unevidenced theory or assumption that mutations do anything that could further evolution.

The actual cause of NORMAL variation within Species is not mutations but the built-in genetic material that has been there from the beginning, such as genes for the traits that define the Species, plus a variety of alleles for the different genes. Alleles are just different forms of the genes that produce different qualities of a given trait in the phenotype. A gene may govern, say, eye color, and the various alleles for that gene will determine which color the eye will be. Mutations do not produce such viable alleles, they only interfere with these normal genetic variations and often produce distortions that cause diseases in the organism.

Mutations do not create new alleles, this has never been observed, it is something merely assumed by evolutionists, there is no evidence for it. The frequency of existing alleles may of course "be controlled by environmental pressures." Such as natural selection which could wipe out a part of a population, thus reducing the genetic variability and creating a new phenotype from the new gene frequencies thus brought about. Or a simple migration of a portion of a population to a new locale where it becomes isolated from the original population. Again new gene frequencies will be established and a new phenotype emerge. All this occurs from the simple shuffling of the alleles pre-existent in the gene pool. These alleles are pre-existing, built into the Species. There is no need for them to be formed by mutation and there is no evidence that any such thing occurs at all. Again, what there IS evidence for is that mutation is a destructive process; it alters the normal genetic formula, sometimes to the point of destroying its function altogether -- at which point the destroyed gene most likely becomes part of the great genetic graveyard known as Junk DNA. This is an UNhealthy process. Mutations not only do not do anything that could possibly further evolution, they contribute only to the deterioration of a Species.

As for what one CALLS new traits that emerge in new populations as a result of the "environmental pressures," they aren't called "novel" because they AREN'T novel, they are simply selected particular expressions out of the normal range of variation built into the Species. Except for the diseases of course, which ARE novel.

So as usual the best answer to all of this is that in reality what we observe happening IN ORDER to produce heritable phenotypic change is the DECREASE in genetic variability that ultimately leads to inability to vary further at all. Normal variation, or microevolution, has built-in genetic limits. This IS subject to evidentiary proof as I've also many times explained. If I were forty years younger and had a few million dollars I'd set up a scientific project for the purpose.

Normal variation comes about through changes in gene frequencies from population to population, which come about as populations become isolated from other populations, each having their own set of gene frequencies. This produces new phenotypes, especially in the smaller populations. If the new population is appreciably smaller than the original, which is often the case, the phenotypic change can be quite dramatic but the genetic variability of that new population will also be much less.

And so it goes until you can get what is called speciation or the development of a new phenotype that can't interbreed with the others of the same Kind, AND has drastically reduced genetic variability, which is the opposite of what it would need in order to vary further. Meaning: the very processes that bring about evolution lead to a genetic condition in which evolution is ultimately no longer possible at all. That's the end of the trail. Evolution defeats evolution.

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