Big brain evolution: our special gene is identified (Evolution)

by dhw, Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 13:17 (650 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: [..] did millions of dead bacteria NOT have God’s instructions, or did they automatically choose the wrong ones, while their mates automatically chose the right ones?

DAVID: Research indicates some bacteria can pick up resistance by lateral transfer of genes, or by minor alteration of their metabolism to different pathways. Poll the bacteria who lived and those who died to answer your provocative query.

They can’t transfer resistance until they have found the way to resist! Clearly they have to change their metabolism if they are to solve the new problem posed by new drugs. How do they do it? You tell us your God gave them a complete list of instructions to solve every problem. Millions of them never got those instructions (“pathways”), or they automatically chose the wrong ones while a few of their mates chose the right ones. Alternatively, there were no such instructions in the first place, and the clever guys worked out the solution and then passed it on to their buddies.

dhw: Since when did you accept the beliefs of scientists because they are sure they are right? Ah well, good news for Shapiro and Dawkins.

DAVID: Good for you. You admit to skepticism when the scientists take a position that attacks your pet theories.

dhw: I ask for open-mindedness, whereas you actively believe scientists when they seem to support you, as above, and you are sceptical when they don’t, as with Shapiro & Co. You have fixed beliefs, and I offer alternative hypotheses.

DAVID: To suit your fixed hypotheses.

I offer alternative hypotheses to suit my fixed hypotheses? What does that mean? I don’t claim to know the answers, and so I offer a variety of possible alternatives. You reject them all because you have fixed beliefs.

dhw: Small population is irrelevant, since the mutations must take place in individuals. Your scientists’ conclusions are based on two individuals from 13 generations of one family over 200 years of stable conditions - a speck of sand in the “hourglass” of 6-8 million years and three to four hundred thousand generations of apes, hominins and hominids living in ever changing conditions, especially if the beneficial mutations are not by chance but are coordinated by intelligent, cooperating cell communities.

DAVID: Of course individual mutations in a small number population. How many mutations can happen in a small number of people? And designed by cell committees as bigger heads demand bigger pelvic outlets in different individuals in the birth process.

Theoretically you only need two (one male and one female) for successful mutations to be passed on. And then you will get expanding groups, and over millions of years and generations you will get more mutations, and so on. Hence transitional forms (e.g. "Little Foot").

DAVID: Your usual response of cell committees figuring out how to make a human. Ha!

dhw: Why ha? You also believe in common descent, so you believe in a gradual accumulation of innovations over 3.5+ thousand million years of evolution from single cells to ALL the different life forms before apes, hominins, hominids and homos.

DAVID: I don't believe in gradual accumulation of small changes. That is Darwinism which you can't seem to leave behind. Note the Giraffe gap or the Cambrian! I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order.

I did not say small changes; I said innovations covering all the different life forms through 3.5+ billion years of life. If you believe that your God created species de novo, then you have finally renounced common descent and embraced Creationism. You may be surprised to hear that I can accept the logic of Creationism as a hypothetical explanation of the gaps in the fossil record. But of course from my point of view, it raises more questions than it answers, which is why I offer a number of alternative explanations of life’s history. None are proven, and none are beliefs. I am an agnostic.

dhw: Now please tell me which half of the process is autonomous.

DAVID: Minor adaptations within current species, nothing more. See arrival of species thru God as stated above.

Thank you for this more fruitful answer. However, it begs the question of a borderline between what you consider to be major and minor, because in my view of evolution, adaptation to new conditions is a driving force for evolutionary change. In your own favourite example of the whale, we have several instances of physiological change coinciding with environmental change: e.g. legs to fins, teeth to no teeth (and also no teeth to baleens). You claim that your God preprogrammed or dabbled them all in preparation for a change of environment. I suggest they were the consequence of organisms (cell communities) autonomously adapting to new conditions. I would regard legs to fins as major, and teeth to no teeth as minor, but both follow the same process. I have a similar problem finding a borderline between adaptation and innovation, but that is the acknowledged difficulty with my hypothesis: we do not know the extent to which cell communities can change their own structures and functions. Meanwhile, perhaps you could comment on the whale example (especially loss of teeth) and give an example or two of cell communities (organisms) acting autonomously through minor adaptations.

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