Thursday, February 24, 2011
A creature that hasn't evolved? Where? NOWHERE!
Graphic showing increasing nucleotide numbers consonant with increasing evolution. (To the right). The nucleotide numbers are derived from the weight of nucleic acid in the haploid complement of an organism. Because a truly "created" organism wouldn't require nucleotides, it would also be without DNA. Up to now creationists haven't shown us a single organism that conforms! (From Strickberger, EVOLUTION, p. 230).
It is mind-boggling the number and permutations of false reasoning and specious science that the creationists can come up with when they've a mind to. The sad thing is that they invest so much mental capital in trying to disprove evolution (and prove creationism) that they could be using the same amount to simply understand evolution the first time!
Some creationists (e.g. Charles COLSON - of WATERGATE fame - if you can believe!) have recently pulled up the examples of the tick, sponge and Gecko to try to argue that these "creatures" (I prefer to call them organisms since the term "creature" is biased toward "creator") must, just MUST have been created and-or designed rather than evolved. They claim that "evolutionists" for example, have no explanation as to how the Gecko has acquired its characteristic features to enable to walk upside down on walls, or whatever. And as for those ticks....who can believe how intricate these little vermin must be in order to feature a "saliva that contains compounds to disable the clotting mechanism ....while it also tricks the host's immune system into keeping white cells away so the tick enjoys a feast of the red cells it needs . "
But there's NO mystery in any of this, and all these evolutionary adaptations can be fully accounted for by the diverse array of protein synthesis and its ability to make natural selection work.
As for the tick's genome and evolution, the basis can be found here:
whle the sequencing of Sponge genome can be located here:
And the explanation for the Gecko's unique talents here:
What do all the preceding examples of "creationist gotcha's" have in common? Robert Shapiro’s Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Bantam, 1986, p. 257, is concise and to the point:
"All manner of creationists spend their time collecting anomalous results that they believe refutes all or part of evolution- and criticize faulty procedures or logic used by scientists. When this is done responsibly, such criticism actually serves a useful purpose, in helping to detect errors in the scientific literature. The Creationists err, however, in presuming that such activity supports their own position.
Anomalies, artifacts and deficiencies exist in every scientific field. A certain level is expected, as part of the normal practice of science. However, their existence doesn’t mean the entire field or theory is expendable. Nor can the collected anomalies support the Creationists main idea, which lies outside science, invulnerable to negation- but also incapable of affirmation, by scientific experiments.
As critics of conventional science, with no body of experimental work of their own to defend, the Creationists occupy an admirable position in any debate. A scientist who opposes them faces the same situation as a boxer battling a pair of remote-controlled boxing gloves. He can try to defend himself from punishment, but he lacks a target at which to strike back.
If he refuses to accept the distortions and ‘facts’ as presented by the Creationist side, he also risks being accused of not being a ‘real scientist’. (A ‘real scientist’ in Creationist jargon being one willing to accept all their anomalies and complaints as sufficient to make their own case, say against evolution)"
The above passage is redolent and top heavy with truth. But one wonders if the creatonist side is open-minded enough to accept it. Or are they even paying attention?
For example, consider paragraph (1). In this guise, as Shapiro notes, creationists somehow believe the Gecko's toe pads and tick's saliva represent some kind of "anomaly" that evolution can't handle. But they are so wrong it's pathetic. The fact is BOTH of these characteristics are already incorporated in the organisms' respective genomes. What is the genome? It is the mapping of the DNA sequences (see graphic) in terms of so many information-bearing nucelotides.
Thus we see that porifera (sponges) barely make 10^8 (100,000,000) nucleotides while the ticks begin to hit at about 3 x 10^9 (3,000,000,000) nucleotides. In all of these there is one fixed natural denominator, and that has to do with the DNA base pairings, Thus, for any ONE nucleotide position 4 different messages are possible: (A, G, C or T) which represent 4 amino acids(adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine). For two nucleotides in tandem there are 4^2 = 4 x 4 or 16 different messages possible (AA, AG, AC, AT, GG, GC, etc.) the rule being that for a linear sequence of n-nucleotides 4^n different possible messages can be encoded. Thus, a linear sequence of only 10 nucleotides can be used to discriminate between more than 1 million (K = 4^10) different messages. This is important, because only a fraction of those messages (K/1000) is needed to account for either the chemical agents in a tick's saliva or a Gecko's toe pads. As Marshall McLuhan would say (to paraphrase him): "the magic is in the message".
Here's the key the "complex creator" genii seem to miss, perhaps because most of them never took a basic biology course, far less an evolution course (yet incredibly they purport to critique evolution, which is somewhat like me criticizing a heart surgeon for his method of coronary bypass!): Soon after the first nucleic acids (RNA, DNA) arose their self-replicating power enabled natural selection based on developing protein systems which would further augment self-replication.
This, of course, resonates with biochemist Jacques Monod's (Chance and Necessity) famous description:
"The organism is a self-constructing machine. Its macroscopic structure is not imposed upon it by outside forces. It shapes itself autonomously by dint of constructive internal interactions"
All of which ultimately rests upon the proteins’ so-called stereo-specific properties. That is, their ability to ‘recognize’ other molecules (including other proteins) by their shape, with this shape determined by their molecular structure. Thus, if a certain shape is chemically recognized, the proteins in the mix can go to work (autonomically) to fashion a protein-based signature or organ - whether tick proboscis or Gecko toe pad.
What does this then have to do with Shapiro's last sentence:
"The Creationists err, however, in presuming that such activity supports their own position."
Well, he means that even IF for some reason the evolutionist's hypothesis were disproven or found dubious, it would not ipso facto validate the creationist's hypothesis. For one thing, the creationist hasn't arrived at his own unique theory (simply postulating a "creator" isn't a theory), so he has to raid evolution to to try and explain or account for the ascending levels of information complexity in the nucleotide sequence (shown in the graphic).
It's actually even worse for him when mRNA (messenger RNA)code is factored in. Consider: the striking universality of the mRNA code and the fact that NO other code has been found in any other living organism- which makes it reasonable to ask: Why this one? Since there are at least 10^70 possible different codes using 64 codons to code for 21 entities (20 amino acids and one chain terminator) then either the particular code derives from accidental causes or there must be a relationship (chemical) between amino acids and their codons and anti-codons. The most likely explanation is a combination of accident and pairing of amino acids based on stereo-specific properties of proteins.
Again, none of this assists the Creationist, who, by the way, has still failed to deliver a falsification test for his hypothesis. Hence, it can't be a true scientific hypothesis.
Indeed, the Creationists don't even have the basic smarts to come up with a genuine positive test or definitive indicator for what a REAL non-evolved "creature" would be like!
Since, the DNA nucleotide sequences and the composition of genomes can all be accounted for by evolution and protein synthesis (via mRNA, tRNA or transfer RNA) then the only way out for creationists is to posit a "creature" which has NO DNA! If then they accept DNA as integral to their process, they are in effect accepting an evolutionary path!
Meanwhile a DNA-less organism would definitely not be like all others on Earth, fitted with double helix DNA coils. Nor would it display nucleotide ascendancy. If it has the same imprint of a "creator" it wouldn't need to be so differentiated! It is CREATED after all! Only an evolutionary algorithmic process would need to distinguish organisms on the basis of pure levels of information, as transferred via nucleotide pairings and numbers.
This latter point directly dovetails with Shapiro's last sentence in the 2nd paragraph:
"Nor can the collected anomalies support the Creationists main idea, which lies outside science, invulnerable to negation- but also incapable of affirmation, by scientific experiments."
Because, again, given the "complexity" hypothesis, it is their job to show us an unimpeachable example and not simply to rob from evolutionary science. (And as I showed, everything from the Gecko's toe pads to the tick's saliva are explainable via natural selection).
All of which shows that the claim of “irreducible complexity” or “intelligent design” is actually pseudo-science, not genuine science. The central problem of ID, is that though its muddled adherents make multiple fusses about some particulars to do with evolution's evidence - they never come up with ID's presumed unique evidence to support its claimed "irreducible complexity". Any time they do, the real scientist can show a process whereby the same structure, organism can be better explained by a combination of natural selection, adaptation over time.
Ultimately, the problem for ID, when you strip away the scientific jargon and window dressing, is that its base premise comes down to the logical fallacy of: ignotum per ignotius (‘seeking to explain the not understood by the less well understood”). In this case, attempting to account for alleged "failures" of evolution or some claimed aspects not yet fully explained by to totally unknown constructs (e.g. ‘supernatural’ or unknown "designer") .This isn't science, it's hogwash, supernaturalist drivel disguised in the wardrobe of science. As Richard Dawkins points out, the fallacy in all ID reasoning is:
"This kind of default reasoning leaves completely open the possibility that, if the biological structure or organism is too complex to have evolved, it might also be too complex to have been created"
All ID proponents empty blather on “intelligent design”, notwithstanding, they still haven’t produced the “goods” to warrant our taking it any more seriously than a lame, half-assed Sunday school tract for kindergarteners. That means first establishing a base of facts and evidence unique to itself. Then, formulating testable predictions which can be made – and that turn out to be more accurate than those of naturalistic evolution.
But I'm willing to even make it easier on the ID'ers and creationists. Instead of demanding all the above, let me just ask them THREE measly little questions which, if they can't answer, they fail the course:
1) What are the necessary conditions for your Designer-Creator to operate?
2) What are the sufficient conditions for your Designer-Creator to operate?
3) Assuming both (1) and (2) are valid explain why this entity didn't create any life on Mars?
After all, IF it really is "divine" then piddling little issues like lack of water, or oxygen should not pose an insurmountable problem ....as they would for evolution? Or, are you admitting your Creator is limited in its abilities? (Thus, it can operate on Earth where water, O2 are present, but not on Mars - or any other planet - where they're absent.)
Inquiring minds wish to know!