"All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt. Gradualists usually extract themselves from this dilemma by invoking the extreme imperfection of the fossil record."
In this case the Gradualists are correct in invoking the extreme imperfection of the fossil record. If we had millions of fossils of marine mammals and none of them showed any gradual transitions, then yes that might throw doubt on the Theory of Evolution. But when we only have a handful of fossils covering a period of tens of millions of years then, as I said, relatively abrupt differences between those fossils are exactly what you would expect to see. On their own these fossils may not be overwhelming proof of evolution, but they are entirely consistent with what you would expect to see from a handful of fossils over that period if evolution were true. Although the changes between each fossil are quite abrupt, when you lay them out together in chronological sequence, they show exactly the transition that you would expect to see from land-based to fully marine mammal. However limited this particular evidence may be, it is nevertheless entirely consistent with the TOE.
But if you're looking for much more similar intermediates, then you need to have a number of fossils from a shorter period of time. That's exactly what we have with hominid fossils. There are very slight differences between the fossils of homo habilis, homo erectus and homo sapiens, for example. All of which have lived within the past 2 million years.
But then someone pointed out to me that in order to go from a primitive form to a more advanced form, then mutations which add information to the genetic code must occur all the time. However in cases where a species lost their eye sight, it is merely a situation where already existing information has been lost. This is not an explanation for how it got there to begin with. We should see cases of positive mutations all the time, but no one seems to be able to give me a good example of even one. You can't demonstrate universal common decent through a loss of information.
I've heard this argument before and I don't think it holds up at all. Others with a more expert understanding of genetics will explain it better, but as far as I know it is very misleading to regard genetic information as being "lost", as if bits of a gentetic code just fall off. The genetic code is digital and either changes or is turned off. Your term "positive mutation" is misleading too. As is your term "primitive form". Again, you're looking at evolution as if it demands that all species should adapt to have all possible organs (i.e. that we should end up with one species only). Any mutation that leads to an advantage is "positive", even if it means losing an organ such as your eyes. But if you're looking for evolving something "new", what about bats' wings? If you look at a bat's skeleton it is frighteningly similar in shape to our own and you can easily see how the wings are supported by the usual 5 mammalian digits, albeit very extended ones. The wings are nothing more than grossly webbed front feet.
For an example of "positive" mutations within recent history, there is the peppered moth in England. This was originally light in colour, as this allowed it to be camoflaged on lichen-covered trees. But during the industrial revolution the pollution caused the trees to turn darker in colour. Very quickly the moths evolved to be much darker, as this gave them a survival advantage. In recent decades as pollution has been curtailed, the trees are now covered in lichen again and the moths have evolved to their original lighter colour. They didn't lose the ability to mutate to a lighter pigment.
How about the ability to utilize a new food source? Some E. Coli evolved the ability to utilize citrate in oxic conditions. That's an improvement in survivability as a result of genetic mutation, i.e. adding information to DNA. Please go read up on the experiment before debating it, please.
I think if you are going to try and make a case for universal common decent (UCD) based on E. coli or any other type of bacteria, you are going to have an incredibly difficult road ahead of you. I realize that evolutionary biologists love to study bacteria because they are asexual and reproduce very quickly, making it possible to compare multi generations over a relatively very short period of time. However there extreme uniqueness to all other forms of living organisms make them a very poor candidate to demonstrate and prove how the rest of the living world could have developed. Bacteria often develop mutations that allow them to adapt to many different environments. Some scientists even reasonably interpret this adaptive characteristic as a "design" feature. Before we go jumping on the "aah Ha! evolution"--band wagon, I should point out that most of these mutation are a type of antagonistic pleiotropy, where they sacrifice some of their other systems to survive within an environment that has become hostile. Antagonistic pleiotropy can be helpful in the short term, and provides a genetic survival mechanism, but if the environment changes the mutation most often becomes detrimental. This isn't a really big problem for bacteria because they reproduce much faster than humans and can afford the "cost" of losing 99.999% of the population. The very small percentage that do survive are sufficient to replenish the population rather quickly.
If you study the Lenski paper closely you see that the transformation took place in the E. coli F' plasmid containing the lac operon. The operon possesses + 1 frameshift, so it is unable to express genes for lactose catabolism. After the precise cultivation conditions of lactose containing medium, the lactose operon on a few of the plasmids revert to lac+. If you recall I was asking for added information to the "chromosomal" DNA of an organism because that is what we would need to see in order to conclude the plausibility of UCD. The problem here is that this transformation was measured in the plasmid and not the regular chromosome. The reason this is a problem is because plasmids operate independently of the chromosomal DNA and mostly only occur in bacteria. Any changes that take place with in them are therefore not at all an example of how all life could have developed. That fact coupled with the destructive nature of the mutations in E. coli in the long term, logically disqualifies them as evidence for how life could have developed to its curren state.
If we had millions of fossils of marine mammals and none of them showed any gradual transitions, then yes that might throw doubt on the Theory of Evolution. But when we only have a handful of fossils covering a period of tens of millions of years then, as I said, relatively abrupt differences between those fossils are exactly what you would expect to see.
To the contrary, Darwin excused the problem with the imperfection of the fossil record and was certain that these chains would eventually be discovered. But now we have had more than 150 years of searching and there still has yet to be even one announcement of such a chain. By far, the fossil record is anything but a place where one can look to for proof of UCD. Instead of purveyors, such as the Smithsonian Institute, constantly announcing newly found missing links, they have to dispose of thousands of duplicate fossils every year. Darwin believed that the number of transitional species would have to be literally astronomical if his theory were true. If you do the math, he is right. Consider the following. Marine invertebrates make up about 95% of all the fossil record. Algae and plant fossils make up around 4.5% of the fossil record. Other invertebrates and insects make up .2375%. Fish and some land vertebrates make up about .0125%. Normal human growth rate is estimated at about 2% per year, but for the sake of argument lets say that that growth rate were a hundred times smaller and were only .002%. In one million years at even that low growth rate, the number of people to have ever lived would have easily filled the entire volume of the earth. So where are all the bones? Why are human fossils so scarce? And we are only talking about human fossils. This same argument applies even more so for plants and animals that have supposedly existed for several millions of years. "You got a lot a splaning to do Lucy!"
Your term "positive mutation" is misleading too.
I think I have been very careful not to say "positive mutation" with out making it clear that I mean a mutation that is beneficial to the survival of the organism. Don't confuse my use of the term with the way you have heard other creationists use it. When a mutation occurred in mice that caused them to lose pigmentation in their hair (they became white) they had an advantage from predators on sandy beaches that their dark relatives did not. That was a loss of information, but still a "positive mutation" in that situation. So I am looking for a gain in new information that also has a positive outcome.
there is the peppered moth in England
Yes I know all about the moths. Those were not the result of additions of new information. Those were merely variations of alleles in the (already existing) gene pool, and being selected by natural selection.
BTW, relaying knowledge you receive in your own words is not plagiary. Otherwise you would have to cite every school teacher and professor you ever had.
A really good example of new information in nylon eating bacteria
There are three enzymes involved in the nylon waste eating bacteria which are F-EI, F-EII, and F-EIII, and two enzymes involved in the Pseudomonas NK87 which are P-EI and P-EII. Take a closer look at the abstract and notice that all the enzymes involved are located on plasmids. PLASMIDS are a small circular unit of DNA that replicate within a cell completely independent of the “chromosomal DNA” and are mostly only found in bacteria. This is not helpful when trying to prove that dinosaurs could have become birds or land animals became whales.
It really helps moderators figure out if a topic is disintegrating because of general misbehavior versus someone in particular if the originally non-misbehaving members kept it that way. When everyone is prickly and argumentative and off-topic and personal then it's just too difficult to tell. We have neither infinite time to untie the Gordian knot, nor the wisdom of Solomon.
There used to be a comedian who presented his ideas for a better world, and one of them was to arm everyone on the highway with little rubber dart guns. Every time you see a driver doing something stupid, you fire a little dart at his car. When a state trooper sees someone driving down the highway with a bunch of darts all over his car he pulls him over for being an idiot.
Please make it easy to tell you apart from the idiots. Message 150