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Author Topic:   Extent of Mutational Capability
Gregory Rogers
Junior Member (Idle past 161 days)
Posts: 7
From: South Africa
Joined: 10-15-2016


Message 1 of 279 (792987)
10-18-2016 8:10 AM


Hi all,

I am new to this forum, and also to this level of the creationism-vs-evolution debate.

A year ago I set myself the task of plumbing the depths of the debate to ascertain, if I could, the truth about this issue (bearing in mind that my field is theology, not science).

To this end I would like to pose a series of questions, and would appreciate input from all sides.

My first question relates to the extent and depth of which mutations are capable, that is, of genetic ‘elasticity’, as it were. Namely: Is there any known process or element in the genetic make-up of animal organisms, or else anything within biology, that would actively stop or act as a barrier to so-called 'macroevolution’. In other words, anything known to genetics that would prevent transformation or mutation from one animal category to another, i.e., any process that would preclude, for example, an ape-like form evolving into a human being, a dinosaur evolving into a bird, and so forth.

It goes without saying that adaptation occurs on a lower level, eg, adaptation can result in different types of finches within the finch species, or else different breeds of dog within the dog species, etc. I believe all sides are agreed on this (so-called 'microevolution').

The crux of the debate, of course, is whether organisms can adapt significantly beyond this, from one animal to a different animal form altogether (ie, so-called 'macroevolution'). Thus I would be interested to know if there is any known genetic barrier that would actively prevent this larger step to a different animal form.

As a layperson, I am struck by the inventive adaptations within the dog family (eg Great Dane compared with Maltese, etc.) Looking at this level of inventiveness, it might seem that the inventive step from one to another animal type as such is not unreasonable.

However, the creationist counter-argument is, I believe, that DNA make-up is like a computer software programme, and that it cannot develop outside of its basic programming. Thus a cat could never evolve into a dog, etc.

Of course, I have also heard the evolutionist argument that two different genes can merge and share their differences, resulting in a new genetic direction, and in this way new animal classes develop.

I hope I have stated the science correctly, as per above.

So then, I would greatly appreciate all input on this point.

Regards,
Greg


Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 279 (792989)
10-18-2016 9:37 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Extent of Mutational Capability thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
dwise1
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Posts: 2914
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 3 of 279 (792998)
10-18-2016 10:22 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gregory Rogers
10-18-2016 8:10 AM


Thus a cat could never evolve into a dog, etc.

Nor could that ever happen, according to evolution. Indeed, if that were to happen, then it would disprove evolution. Only creationists will claim that that is what evolution would require, but that is because they have no idea what evolution is. They have no clue.

The creationist "counter-argument" is utterly false and should be disregarded.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Gregory Rogers, posted 10-18-2016 8:10 AM Gregory Rogers has not yet responded

    
Taq
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Posts: 7043
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


(1)
Message 4 of 279 (793000)
10-18-2016 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gregory Rogers
10-18-2016 8:10 AM


Gregory Roberts writes:

Is there any known process or element in the genetic make-up of animal organisms, or else anything within biology, that would actively stop or act as a barrier to so-called 'macroevolution’.

As macroevolution is defined by science and observed in the fossil record, then no, there is no barrier to macroevolution.

The differences we see between the genomes of living species is consistent with the observed mutations that biological organisms naturally create. They include substitution, insertion, deletion, and recombination events. All life uses the same genetic and metabolic pathways.

What I would consider to be a barrier to macroevolution is if macroevolution required a complete rewrite of both genetics and metabolism, the foundational functions of any organism. For example, if chimps used a completely different codon table than humans, then I would say there is a very significant and very possibly an impenetrable barrier to macroevolution. As it is, we use the same codons, the same metabolic pathways, and only differ by 2 or 4% at the sequence level (depending on how you count insertions and deletions).

In other words, anything known to genetics that would prevent transformation or mutation from one animal category to another, i.e., any process that would preclude, for example, an ape-like form evolving into a human being, a dinosaur evolving into a bird, and so forth.

The problem with this argument is that apes, humans, dinosaurs, and birds are all in the same animal category. We are all amniotes. Nowhere in the historic evolution of animals do we require a completely new animal to evolve. Chimps and humans are both primates, as was our common ancestor. Bears and humans are both mammals, as was our common ancestor. Fish and humans are both vertebrates, as was our common ancestor.

However, the creationist counter-argument is, I believe, that DNA make-up is like a computer software programme, and that it cannot develop outside of its basic programming. Thus a cat could never evolve into a dog, etc.

If DNA can't be changed then how are both cats and dogs able to survive with different DNA sequences in their genomes? According to this creationist argument, there should only be one species, and every member of that species should have identical genomes. Obviously, this isn't the case.

DNA can change, and changes in DNA can lead to new species with new functions and new morphology. In fact, we do see DNA changing in real populations in real time.

Edited by Taq, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Gregory Rogers, posted 10-18-2016 8:10 AM Gregory Rogers has not yet responded

  
1.61803
Member
Posts: 2704
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 5 of 279 (793003)
10-18-2016 11:40 AM


From shrew to you
It seems that every time nature has revealed a answer, she also gives rise to yet more questions.

I found a few web articles that I feel may be relevant to of macro-evolution.

In 1997 scientist discovered that whales are related to cows and hippos. That is about as counter intuitive as it gets imo.

http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/51/12/1037.full

http://www.cracked.com/...-you-wont-believe-are-related.html

So all bets seem to be off, If a shrew like creature can give rise to humanity.


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

Replies to this message:
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caffeine
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From: Prague, Czech Republic
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(1)
Message 6 of 279 (793012)
10-18-2016 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by 1.61803
10-18-2016 11:40 AM


Re: From shrew to you
In 1997 scientist discovered that whales are related to cows and hippos. That is about as counter intuitive as it gets imo.

Scientists were aware that whales are related to cows and hippos long before 1997. What changed (and it changed earlier than 1997) was the realisation that whales are related to hippos more closely than cows are. See here for Dan Graur's 1994 paper arguing that cetaceans are nested within, rather than sister to, artiodactyls.


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Taq
Member
Posts: 7043
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 7 of 279 (793013)
10-18-2016 2:38 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by 1.61803
10-18-2016 11:40 AM


Re: From shrew to you
1.61803 writes:

In 1997 scientist discovered that whales are related to cows and hippos. That is about as counter intuitive as it gets imo.

Humans are also related to cows and hippos. All species are related to one another.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by 1.61803, posted 10-18-2016 11:40 AM 1.61803 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by 1.61803, posted 10-18-2016 3:30 PM Taq has responded

  
dwise1
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Posts: 2914
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


(3)
Message 8 of 279 (793016)
10-18-2016 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gregory Rogers
10-18-2016 8:10 AM


Welcome
Welcome to the fray, Greg. Sorry my first reply was so short, but I only had a couple minutes before having to rush out the door to work. I do hope we can have some good discussions.

Like you, I started to dig into the "creation/evolution controversy" to ascertain the truth. That was about 35 years ago and what I discovered almost immediately was that all the creationist claims turned out to be false; none of them could stand up under scrutiny. While most creationists don't understand the science behind their claims nor the claims themselves (all they know is that they sure do sound convincing), I have also encountered instances of deliberate lying and dishonesty. I described that initial learning experience on my webpage, Why I Oppose Creation Science.

Like I said, that has been my own experience, but I ask that you not jump to conclusions about me. I should also point out that I do not oppose the idea of Divine Creation, but rather a particular theology, "creation science", which I consider to be false and damaging to Christians' faith. On my quotes page, I quote members of Answers in Genesis who say the same thing, that relying on false claims can endanger one's faith; eg, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati and Dr Don Batten.

My basic position is that if you wish to oppose evolution, then I must insist that you do so honestly and truthfully and that you do address evolution itself and not waste everybody's time attacking false ideas that are mislabeled as being evolution. Therefore, I must warn you from using "creation science" claims not only because I have found them to be dishonest and false, but also because they misrepresent evolution, science, religion, and just about everything that they can lay their dirty paws on.

Your experience is with theology whereas mine is with science. In the 1980's, it was still popular for creationists to use young-earth claims to support the belief expressed by John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research:

quote:
"If the earth is more than 10,000 years old then Scripture has no meaning."

Here is the context for that from the 1986 International Conference on Creationism (ICC):
quote:
{Glenn R. Morton, practicing petroleum geologist and staunch creationist, asked John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR)}, "How old is the earth?" "If the earth is more than 10,000 years old then Scripture has no meaning." Morton then said that he had hired several graduates of Christian Heritage College {which formerly housed the ICR}, and that all of them suffered severe crises of faith. They were utterly unprepared to face the geological facts every petroleum geologist deals with on a daily basis.

(Corroborated by Glenn Morton in Why I left Young-earth Creationism)



One of the discussions I would like for us to have would be whether John Morris is correct. I believe that he is wrong. Since theologies are Man-made they are fallible and prone to error. If your theology turns out to contain error (which is inevitable), then why throw out your entire faith? Why not simply correct your theology? That's an example of the kinds of questions that we should be discussing.

Well, it turns out that the young-earth claims are the easiest to refute and hence are the most vulnerable. As a result, experienced young-earth creationists have become notorious for going to great lengths to avoid discussing those claims with knowledgeable outsiders (though I'm certain that they share them freely with fellow believers). But if you have some young-earth claims you'd like to discuss, then I would welcome discussing them with you.

Or you could start to research them yourself, now that you are aware that they have problems. To that end, one resource I recently found is a series of videos on YouTube:
How Creationism Taught Me Real Science. It is a series of 40 videos by Tony Reed. The general format of each video is that he starts out "encountering" a creationist claim, finds that it sounds convincing, and decides to check it out, to verify it. And of course the claim falls apart under inspection. Besides the content, the title of the series really appealed to me because it echos my own experience, that by studying "creation science" and researching its claims I have learned a lot of real science.

Responding to my suggested topics in this topic would be off-topic, something that the administrators keep an eye on. If you want to follow up with any of them then I suggest that you start a new topic in which to do that.

Again, welcome and I hope we can have some interesting and constructive discussions.

Edited by dwise1, : emphasis on not taking this off-topic

Edited by dwise1, : Repaired broken link.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2914
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 9 of 279 (793017)
10-18-2016 3:29 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gregory Rogers
10-18-2016 8:10 AM


No Barriers to Macroevolution
The terms macroevolution and microevolution are defined differently by creationists than by scientists. The scientific definition, as per Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution):
quote:

Macroevolution is evolution on a scale of separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population. Macroevolution and microevolution describe fundamentally identical processes on different time scales.

Hence, when speciation has occurred, then so has macroevolution.

Creationists redefine macroevolution to occur well above the species level, hence also redefining microevolution to be responsible for speciation.

Part of the problem is that while "species" seems to be a simple enough concept, in nature it can be difficult to define definitively. This is known as the species problem. For example, we commonly think of different species as being reproductively isolated, which for the most part is true. However, that does not necessarily mean that closely related species are incapable of reproducing, but rather that they either do not have the opportunity to try or have different mating behavior. Creationists take advantage of this confusion by apparently defining macroevolution as requiring the genetic inability to interbreed, thus redefining hybrids as only proving "microevolution."

In other words, the entire macroevolution/microevolution issue basically boils down to semantics, a game that creationists love to play since their only goal is to convince their audience (and themselves), not to actually learn something.

The creationist approach is to invent "basic created kinds", AKA "baramin". Originally, they were used in order to keep the Ark from being overcrowded: instead of two of every single species of animal, it only needed to carry two breeding representatives of each basic created kinds. Hence instead of all feline species, it only needed two members of the basic felid kind. Dogs, wolves, foxes, hyenas by the basic canid kind. All worms by the basic worm kind. Etc. And then after the Flood each pair started breeding and evolving at an incredibly rapid rate (almost instantaneously), though creationists call this "simple variation within basic created kinds."

Basically, this idea suffers from broad disagreement among creationists as well as a lot of hand-waving on their part. Still, it does serve its basic purpose of convincing creationists and those they wish to mislead.

But it also proves macroevolution. In the "basic canid kind", a lot of canids, especially the wolf-like ones, are very compatible genetically and can freely interbreed. However, two types of jackel cannot. And other canids, such as South American canids, true foxes, bat-eared foxes, or raccoon dogs, also cannot interbreed with wolf-like canids. True reproductive barriers had evolved within the "basic canid kind." Macroevolution happened! See https://en.wikipedia.org/...id_hybrid#Genetic_considerations.

The same holds true of the "basic felid kind" -- see felid hybrid. That "baramin" consists of two branches: Pantherinae (tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopards) and Felinae (including all the non-pantherine cats). A lot of hybridization can occur within the Pantherinae branch and a lot within the Felinae branch, but none across the genetic divide between the two branches. Yet again, true genetic reproductive barriers evolved with a "basic created kind". Macroevolution happened!

And don't even get us started on the "basic worm kind". That "simple" "baramin" is filled with reproductive barriers.

No, there are no genetic limitations that could prevent macroevolution. Regardless of how creationists will play semantic games to redefine it out of existence, it still happened.

BTW, you may find the article on speciation edifying. Or at the very least informative.

You might also want to read up on cladistics, which is how we construct evolutionary trees. Please note the branching nature, such that descendant species branch off from their ancestral species and never jump to another separate branch. Hence a species that evolved from cats would still be cat, just different from its ancestral cats; it could never jump over to the canid branches and hence never become a kind of dog. This important concept is called "nested clades." It's a simple enough concept, rather obvious actually. Funny how creationists can't seem to understand it.

So learn a bit about cladistics so that you can appreciate that crying out "But they're STILL MOTHS!!!" is just as stupid as "Why are there still monkeys?"and "Men have fewer ribs than women."


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1.61803
Member
Posts: 2704
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 10 of 279 (793018)
10-18-2016 3:30 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Taq
10-18-2016 2:38 PM


Re: From shrew to you
Taq writes:

Humans are also related to cows and hippos. All species are related to one another.

My Haiku on common descent

I believe this to be true

all creatures are kin

How could it be otherwise


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Taq, posted 10-18-2016 2:38 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
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Taq
Member
Posts: 7043
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 11 of 279 (793019)
10-18-2016 4:21 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by dwise1
10-18-2016 3:29 PM


Re: No Barriers to Macroevolution
dwise1 writes:

And don't even get us started on the "basic worm kind". That "simple" "baramin" is filled with reproductive barriers.

As I am sure you are aware, there are creationists who consider all birds to be a single created kind, hummingbird to ostrich.

What I find most curious about their position is the genetic comparisons. Creationists will often claim that the genetic differences between humans and chimps is a gulf that evolution can no cross. However, there are many species within a supposed created kind that have more genetic between them than do chimps and humans. In fact, there are more differences between any two ape species than there is between a chimp and human.


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 Message 9 by dwise1, posted 10-18-2016 3:29 PM dwise1 has not yet responded

  
Taq
Member
Posts: 7043
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


(1)
Message 12 of 279 (793020)
10-18-2016 4:25 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by 1.61803
10-18-2016 3:30 PM


Re: From shrew to you
1.61803 writes:

My Haiku on common descent

I believe this to be true

all creatures are kin

How could it be otherwise

New flowers budding
Branch tips reaching up to sky
Phylogeny


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by 1.61803, posted 10-18-2016 3:30 PM 1.61803 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by 1.61803, posted 10-18-2016 4:32 PM Taq has responded

  
1.61803
Member
Posts: 2704
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 13 of 279 (793021)
10-18-2016 4:32 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Taq
10-18-2016 4:25 PM


Re: From shrew to you
"Phylogeny"
I think you need 5 syllables there.

Try: It's Phylogeny


"You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative" William S. Burroughs

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Taq, posted 10-18-2016 4:25 PM Taq has responded

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Taq
Member
Posts: 7043
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 14 of 279 (793022)
10-18-2016 4:35 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by 1.61803
10-18-2016 4:32 PM


Re: From shrew to you
"Phylogeny"
I think you need 5 syllables there.

Its 5 syllables when I say it.


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jar
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Posts: 29190
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 15 of 279 (793024)
10-18-2016 5:31 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Taq
10-18-2016 4:35 PM


Re: From shrew to you
po lop onies

My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

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