Science, Just Science

1 December 2008

The Evidence For And Against Evolution

A nice little post over at the Daylight Atheism blog:

“Teaching the controversy” has always been a rhetorical centerpiece of the intelligent-design movement, but it has become a more prominent part of their strategy in the wake of ID’s 2005 court defeat in Dover, Pennsylvania. Seeking to avoid blame for the Dover verdict, creationist groups such as the Discovery Institute pleaded that they had never wanted to teach intelligent design per se, but only the “evidence for and against” evolution.

The most sinister part of this argument is its apparent fairness. Who could object to teaching students all sides in a dispute? Hardly anyone, of course, which is why ID advocates sometimes trumpet polls showing that large majorities say students should be taught the evidence for and against evolution. That shouldn’t be a surprise: if there were legitimate evidence against evolution, even I would certainly want it to be taught, as I think most atheists would. But the problem is that these polls ask a loaded question by assuming that there is such evidence.

If there is a legitimate, scientific controversy over some issue, then by all means, teachers should present all sides in a fair and even-handed manner. However, this is not a description which applies to the teaching of evolution. Creationists and their intelligent-design comrades have steadfastly avoided making their case to the scientific community (where it meets with near-unanimous scorn). Instead, they’re attempting to do an end-run around that scrutiny by forcing their beliefs into public schools before they have won the approval of practicing, qualified scientists in those fields. This is completely backwards from how these controversies are supposed to be resolved.

The problem with “teaching all sides” is that it can give fringe ideas a credibility they have not earned. Excessive concern for “balance” leads to presenting the speculations of cranks and crackpots as if they were on equal footing with the positions defended by vast majorities of qualified experts. (The media has a similar problem.) And this is very useful to advocates of pseudoscience, who often do not need to win the rhetorical battle outright; they can triumph merely by muddying the waters and preventing a consensus from forming around the truth. This is the same strategy employed by tobacco companies, as we can see from the second excerpt above, as well as by oil companies seeking to forestall regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

[Read The Rest Of The Blog Post Here]

And that, in a nutshell, is the point … that is exactly why ID has no place in the science classroom.

“Teach The Controversy” they say. “What controversy” we ask, “There is no controversy!”

“Teach both sides of the argument, show the evidence for and against evolution” they say, but the sad fact (for them) is that there is no evdience against evolution, no evidence, no controversy and ID is not now and never will be science.

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

9 October 2008

FT: Creationism Is About Politics Not Religion

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,News,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 1:29 pm

The Evolution Of Creationism
Christopher Caldwell
September 5 2008

The address by Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential nominee, to the Republican convention on Wednesday was hailed by both supporters and detractors as marking an epoch in US politics. The Alaska governor introduced herself as a representative of the small-town Americans “who do some of the hardest work . . . who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars”, and warned that she was not coming to Washington to seek the good opinion of the press. For Republicans, it was the most electrifying oratorical moment in a generation, when the authentic voice of middle America made itself heard again after decades of silence. For Democrats, it was a rant unprecedented in its boorishness and effrontery.

Leaving aside Alaskan regional exotica, from moose stew to snow-machine racing, the great novelty of Ms Palin’s candidacy is that she is the first national nominee since William Jennings Bryan a century ago to be called a “creationist” – a disbeliever in the theory of evolution. This is unfair. Those who describe Ms Palin that way are latching on to one exchange during the Alaska governor’s race two years ago when she said she had no objection if teachers questioned Darwin. “I say this as the daughter of a science teacher,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of information, and let kids debate both sides.” She explicitly ruled out putting creationism on school curriculums.

But she is not exactly shouting her mainstream views from the rooftops, either. A new kind of opposition to the theory of evolution has stirred small-town America in recent years. From the 1960s until the 1980s, believers in the Biblical account of creation managed to stymie the teaching of Darwin in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. But only briefly – they were drubbed in the courts, on the grounds that their teachings violated the separation of church and state. Outright creationists, of the sort who date the Creation to 4004BC, are today few, disorganised and weak. What the US does have, though, is an active community of campaigners for “intelligent design”, the belief that nature is too complex to be understood without reference to a “designer” – presumably one with a capital D. Intelligent design, too, has fared badly in the courts, but the political questions it raises are live. They tell us a bit about why populism made such a thundering return to US politics this week.

[Read The Rest Of The Article Here]

So religion is about power & control? I’d never’ve guessed! Honest!

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

1 October 2008

Pharyngula: A Review Of “Explore Evolution”

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,Education,News,Science,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 8:16 am

According to PZ Myers of the Pharyngula Blog, The Discovery Institute is about to replace it’s previous anti-evolution textbook, “Of Panda’s And People” and John Timmer of Ars Technica reviewed it saying:

“the book doesn’t only promote stupidity, it demands it. In every way except its use of the actual term, this is a creationist book, but its authors are expecting that legislators and the courts will be too stupid to notice that, or to remember that the Supreme Court has declared teaching creationism an unconstitutional imposition of religion.”

PZ Myers has read it and agrees it is as bad as the reviewer says.

Read Myers slightly more comprehensive comments here and the full review here.

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

11 April 2008

Support The Skeptologists!

Filed under: News,Science,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 10:41 am

In my browsing around the net I cam across a bunch of scientists who want a more intelligent form of programming on our TV screens and I concur … so I thought I’d post a little advert for it here:

Support The Skeptologists!

Raise your voice! Let it be known that it’s time for a TV series that focuses on the real, the intelligent and important advances in science, critical thinking and skepticism. The Skeptologists will be pitched to major networks soon, and we want to give the programming executives a sense of what kind of support they can received if they invest in a TV series of this kind. This is your chance to have a voice in the type of TV that is produced.

[You Can Read More Here: The Skeptologists]

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

23 February 2008

Journal Live: County Rejects Faith Academy At Consett

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 11:12 am

Another positive result for good sense and reason!

EDUCATION bosses yesterday gave an emphatic snub to ex-motor magnate Sir Peter Vardy’s offer to set up a faith academy in a former steel town.

In doing so Durham County Council rejected the advice of a former chief inspector of schools and of an ex-Government chief whip.

The issue is politically contentious, with former chief whip and North West Durham MP Hilary Armstrong coming under fire from Labour councillors for supporting the proposal from Sir Peter Vardy’s Emmanuel Schools Foundation in partnership with former Sunderland AFC chairman Bob Murray.

Ms Armstrong, whose constituency includes Consett, said the town’s children could miss out on a “marvellous opportunity”.

The council instead favours as potential sponsor a consortium called Durham Excellence in Education Partnership (Deep) involving Durham University, local secondary schools, North East Chamber of Commerce and the county council itself.

Two other MPs, Kevan Jones, of Durham North, and Roberta Blackman-Woods, Durham City, support the council’s preferred option.

After the council cabinet voted on its preferred sponsor, Ms Blackman-Woods said: “In the House of Commons today I congratulated Durham University and its partners for putting forward their bid.

“If it was ultimately successful, it would help to raise aspirations in the county and provide more opportunities for young people.” Mr Jones said: “Durham County Council’s decision is fantastic news for education in Durham. The involvement of Durham University and the other members of the Deep group will bring a great deal of expertise to the academies programme and will certainly help to continue to drive up educational standards in Durham.”

[Read The Rest of The Article Here]

Anything that stops people like Reg Vardy advancing his creationism into our schools is a good thing! Now if we can only get someone with some real balls to push these people out of what they already have we’ll be truly on the winning path.

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

19 February 2008

Angry By Choice!

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 9:33 am

I was browsing P. Z. Myer’s excellent Pharyngula blog and he linked to another one, Angry By Choice, a report about a Creation Science Home-Schooling Fair, and was saying what a typical mess it was and of course he’s right but I read Angry’s report and I saw something else, I saw hope!

Why do I say that? OK, it seems to me that even though these awful “creation science” leaders are doing what they do best (lie, cheat, delude and intentionally obscure reality for what I can only presume to be power and status) reason will win the day … at the fair there were exhibits at the show that showed young, creationism home-schooled, people were thinking or attempting to think rationally (don’t get me wrong, there were others that weren’t) and that gives me hope.

Even if everything science has done was wiped out today and the creationists took power I believe (or at least have reason to hope) that reason would eventually triumph again because reason and logic opposes what these awful people do, that belief-in-spite-of-evidence gets trashed once humans start to think for themselves.

That isn’t a reason to be complacent but it does mean that even if ID triumphs its victory will, in all liklihood, be transient and Humanity still has a chance to suceed and that makes me look at things just a little more positively.

Call it faith if you wish but I believe in our future.

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)

9 February 2008

Science Just Science Campaign – A New Beginning!

Filed under: SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 5:43 pm

It’s taken a while I admit but we’ve finally got our act together and are re-launching the “Science, Just Science” Campaign and we’ve decided to do so as a blog.

It’s been fairly quiet since SJS faltered but on the plus side it’s given us a chance to think, to re-evaluate, to reconsider and to build upon what we’ve learned which, I’m sure you’ll agree, can only be a good thing. A key change in my own stance is that I feel even less like tolerating foolish views than I did previously and that, unfortunately, affects one of the key principles upon which the original campaign was based. SJS was founded upon the idea that neither atheists or religious moderates wanted Creationism or ID anywhere near a UK based science classroom and my personal problem with that was, as a rational atheist respecting the right of any individual to hold whatever views they wish (no matter how demented), I was and still am unable to respect any view unless it can be rationally justified. In that sense I am about as Dawkinsian as it is possible to be believing that no religious viewpoint inherently merits any greater tolerance or respect than any other [religious POV], that none deserve any special favour from individuals or state and that none should be especially excepted from critical evaluation. I’m a hardline atheist so it’s no secret that I am no friend of religion and indeed consider myself to be more oriented towards the downfall of such institutions than their maintenance. In that sense I feel SJS was founded on the lie (granted one that made perfect strategic sense) that the enemy of my enemy was my friend. In many ways (at least from the POV of an atheist) I think all I’ve been doing is to ignore the lesser of two evils; that whilst we dealt with the greater threat we had agreed to bury the metaphorical axe … for the present moment.

With hindsight I feel I’ve simply been making nice with a piranha.

Why do I think that? In SJS’s time I have noticed a few things …

  • No matter what we did to try and attract theists into our ranks (and trust me we really tried) the vast majority of our membership tended to be non-religious.
  • No matter how hard we tried, no matter what incentives we came up with, we were unable to attract a single one of our religious brethren into SJS’s core management group (the smaller number of us who steered SJS, who reacted directly to creationist tactics.
  • A noted tendency on the part of some theists to want their position (and those of their leading thinkers) respected whilst expecting to be able (unchallenged) to criticise leading atheist speakers and/or to be implicitly critical of atheism and conveniently ignoring the obvious similarities between their own beliefs & those of the fundamentalists whose actions we were so opposed to.
  • Some resentment of the participation of (and often early action by) atheists in the fight against the creationists.

This kind of attitude on the part of theists (and I stress that I do know of a few, too few IMO, theists who don’t act this way), their unwillingness to fully engage with atheists in the battle against pseudoscience has allowed many of those with stronger theistic views (including fundamentalists) to cry foul and act as if it were they who were the injured party. Fortunately today’s climate (to my mind far more conducive to healthy scientific scepticism) has allowed the hyper-reasoned views of Dawkins and his fellows to the fore and I think it is that, alongside an overly PC society that appears to quake in terror at the thought of upsetting ethnic and religious groups (including those we would have previously regarded as zealots), that accounts for many such theist claims and their apparent fear that naturalism, secularism, atheism or whatever may be getting too big for its boots.

Regardless of the fact that so many would like it to be so there is not only no available validatable evidence for deity but there is the significant problem that the introduction of deity-dependent explanations, by which I mean their acceptance as valid in a real sense (that the divine action of a creator god or a miracle maker was necessary for some aspect of an explanation to proceed), would present far more problems for science than they could ever solve. Such thinking not only arises out of 2000 year old plus thought, such thinking should have little or no relevance to a modern free-thinking enlightened society and I am amazed such things are tolerated in society at all (let alone in the education system where SJS’s concerns mainly lie) except of course as an example of how wrong a society can get it.

But to return to the point of this first SJS-as-a-blog post …

Following a period of consultation, we have decided to re-launch SJS in a blog format where we (or anyone else to whom we grant permission) can post articles (and where others can post comments) yet still allow us, as individuals, sufficient room to express our own views. I would, however, like to make it crystal clear that whilst SJS welcomes anyone to the fight and will willingly work with them to achieve our main goal of keeping science and only science in the UK education system we have agreed that we will no longer give anyone, atheist or theist, a get-out-of-jail-free card … your views, should you care to advance them, stand on their merit and on nothing else.

James “Kyuuketsuki” Rocks (UK Tech Portal)
Note:
The views stated above represent the views of the author and not necessarily the views of all core members of the “Science, Just Science” Campaign.
Addendum:
As the campaign switches from its old wiki-style format to the new blog one we will be progressively adding back in some of our old material so it will appear as archived and available to anyone as a resource.

26 June 2007

News: UK Government Acts On ID!

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,News,Science,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 9:10 pm

*** Originally posted by Chris Hyland of SJS (modified by James Rocks) ***

From “The Register”:

UK Gov boots Intelligent Design Back Into ‘Religious’ Margins

The government has announced that it will publish guidance for schools on how creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching, and has reiterated that it sees no place for either on the science curriculum.

It has also defined “Intelligent Design”, the idea that life is too complex to have arisen without the guiding hand of a greater intelligence, as a religion, along with “creationism”.

Responding to a petition on the Number 10 ePetitions site, the government said: “The Government is aware that a number of concerns have been raised in the media and elsewhere as to whether creationism and intelligent design have a place in science lessons. The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science. “

… 

The petition was posted by James Rocks of the Science, Just Science campaign, a group that formed to counter a nascent anti-evolution lobby in the UK.

From the UK Government’s E-Petition website:

The Original Petition

“The Prime Minister has recently spoken about the importance of science education in the UK. Creationism & Intelligent design are greatly featured in the media and are being used disingenuously to portray science & the theory or evolution as being in crisis when they are not. Moreover groups such as Truth in Science are targeting our nation’s children and their science education with material that is not only non-scientific but have been rejected by the scientific community. These ideas therefore do not constitute science, cannot be considered scientific education and therefore do not belong in the nation’s science classrooms.”

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to prevent the use of creationist and other pseudo-scientific propaganda in Government-funded schools.”

Submitted by James Rocks of ‘Science, Just Science’ Campaign

From The UK Government (10 Downing Street):

The Government’s response.

The Government remains committed ensuring that young people have an understanding of the importance of science and the world around them.

Science is a core subject of the National Curriculum throughout every Key Stage. The National Curriculum secures for all pupils, irrespective of background and ability, an entitlement to a range of areas of learning. Its aim is to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for each pupil’s self-fulfilment and development as an active and responsible citizen. It makes expectations for learning and attainment explicit to pupils, parents, teachers, governors, employers and the public, and establishes national standards for the performance of all pupils. All materials that support the teaching, learning and assessment of primary and secondary education, can be found on the National Curriculum website (new window).

The Government is aware that a number of concerns have been raised in the media and elsewhere as to whether creationism and intelligent design have a place in science lessons. The Government is clear that creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science. The science programmes of study set out the legal requirements of the science National Curriculum. They focus on the nature of science as a subject discipline, including what constitutes scientific evidence and how this is established. Students learn about scientific theories as established bodies of scientific knowledge with extensive supporting evidence, and how evidence can form the basis for experimentation to test hypotheses. In this context, the Government would expect teachers to answer pupils’ questions about creationism, intelligent design, and other religious beliefs within this scientific framework.

We will be publishing guidance for schools, on the way creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching. It will be possible to ensure that the weight of scientific opinion is properly presented. The guidance will be available on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority website in due course. 

Whichever way you look at it this e-petition was a success for SJS and for UK science.

2 June 2007

Misconceptions About Intelligent Design

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 8:57 pm

*** Originally posted by Chris Hyland of SJS ***

A common reply to critiques of Intelligent Design is that the author of the critique does not understand ID and is in fact attacking the strawman. The problem of course is that the definition of Intelligent Design changes from one proponent to another, so if you refute one set of views another person will simply say you are attacking a strawman. Nevertheless there are a few core points where an ID proponent will always claim that you are unfairly representing ID, new creationism has a list.

1. It’s Creationism in Sheep’s Clothing

While some intelligent design proponents are not young earth creationists, there is plenty of evidence that shows the ID movement arose as a response to court rulings in the 1980’s that banned the teaching of creationism and ‘creation science’ in US public schools. All ID arguments are refined versions of, and often identical to older creationist arguments, and the majority of ID proponents appear to believe in a young earth. Futhermore a series of statements from leading ID proponents, including the Wedge Strategy of the Discovery Institute, show that the mission of the ID movement is primarily religious.

2. An Expectation of Optimal Design

Often critics of Intelligent Design fall prey to the Optimal Design straw man which basically says that the establishment of less than optimal (or perfect) design invalidates Intelligent Design Theory. While Optimal Design implies Intelligent Design, the reverse is not true. There are many designs that are not perfect but fulfill the role and desires of the designer.

The key here is that even poor designs usually show the signature of intelligent causation. There is indeed a chasm between what we can expect chance to do versus what even basic intelligence can produce.

While non-optimal design is not a refutation of ID in it’s most basic form (and it isn’t at all clear what optimal means in this case), the point is that biological structures are not ‘optimal’ to the point that they appear not to have evolved. Evolution is also expected to produce structures of varying levels of efficiency, so it is hard to tell why intelligent design is the more likely explanation.

3. Intelligent Design is guilty of the God of the Gaps

Intelligent Design is: X couldn’t have evolved, X is analogous to some kind of machine, therefore X was designed. ID fundementally relies on the assumption that it is impossible or highly improbable for a system to evolve, that’s why the vast majority if ID’s efforts are spent attacking evolution. Therefore it’s hard to see why ID isn’t guilty of God of the gaps.

4. The Strong Dichotomy with Evolutionary Theory

Often Intelligent Design is squared off against Evolutionary Theory, but Intelligent Design can be synthesized with some variants of Evolutionary Theory. In fact, theistic (or directed) evolution is arguably a form or expression of Intelligent Design.

Theistic evolutionists do not believe that design in nature has been scientifically detected, they also agree with evolutionary theory. So as far as science is concerned they are completely different from ID proponents.

24 April 2007

Just So

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,Science,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 12:18 pm

*** Originally posted by ‘Odd Digit’ of SJS ***
Introduction

One things that the attackers of science (including ID advocates) frequently do is accuse scientists of constructing ‘just-so stories’.

This is first of all a deeply ironic claim, given that the ID advocates either are unable to or refuse to identify any candidate for a designer. Therefore the ID ‘explanation’ for – well – everything is: ‘an unknown intelligent designer did it using unknown methods for unspecified reasons at an unknown time’.

The above doesn’t even reach the lofty heights of a ‘just-so story’ because there is absolutely no detail whatsoever. At least Kipling supplied some detail with his stories, even if it was entirely fanciful!

So, let’s contrast this contentless, meaningless ID ‘explanation’ with some examples of the kinds of evolutionary narratives that the ID advocates claim are ‘just-so stories’, and see if we can spot any differences.

I’m going to use gene duplication as my example. I’m not going to reference any scientific journals whatsoever in this section.

‘Just-So’ Story

A scientist while investigating a bacterial genome discovered that two genes doing apparently different tasks were almost identical in sequence, only differing by a few base pairs. This was a very interesting discovery, and the scientist decided to investigate a bit further. The first thing he did was to sit down and think about ways in which this related genes could have been produced. He came up with a few explanations, but the one he thought was the most likely was that the original gene had been copied (duplicated) in it’s entirety, and then one of the copies had been changed by point mutations until was performing a different task to the original.

(The above explanation is typically labelled a ‘just-so story’ by ID advocates. We have some evidence. The scientist has constructed a explanation to account for it. There is no other evidence at this point that the explanation is correct. Science typically refers to these kinds of explanations as ‘hypotheses’, and they are acknowledged to be entirely tentative in nature.)

Having come up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for the origin of these two very similar genes what does the scientists do next? Does he drop the subject having explained it to his satisfaction and then move on to his next project? Actually he doesn’t. He decides that this hypothesis needs testing to see if it actually correct. So the scientist has a think about what predictions he can make from his hypothesis, and how he can therefore design some tests for it.

If this gene duplication has occurred once, the scientist thinks it is likely that similar duplications could have occurred elsewhere in the genome. So finding other related pairs of genes (‘homologs’) would be additional evidence to strengthen the explanation. There may be multiple duplication events to create a ‘family’ of related genes, which would provide more evidence. There is a chance that having had a duplication event, one of the copies could lose it’s start sequence and become ‘redundant’, finding these would also provide extra evidence. And of course the best evidence of all would be to have an organism with a fully sequenced genome and to have a duplication event actually happen, so when the genome is examined again later there are now two (or more) copies of a gene where before there was one.

(So the whole point of the scientific hypothesis above is that can be used to create testable predictions. This is why it is not a ‘just-so story’. It’s a starting place for further investigation. The hypothesis might turn out to be wrong or incomplete.)

The scientist then widens his search and looks for other closely related pairs of genes. And he finds them. And so do other scientists in other organisms. He looks for families of related genes. He finds those too. And so do other scientists. He looks for redundant genes (‘pseudogenes’). And finds them. As do other scientists. Other scientists using his research as a basis observe the duplication event occuring. The gene duplication hypothesis moves from being a tentative hypothesis to being a known evolutionary mechanism with multiple strands of overlapping evidence that are fully consistent with each other.

Other scientists use the now known and familiar concept of redundant pseudogenes to form their own hypotheses. One group start with the observation that most mammals have a gene for producing vitamin C and chimps and humans do not have this gene. This group of scientists use the two known (and repeatably tested and confirmed) phenomena of common descent and redundant pseudogenes to predict that the ancestor of chimps and humans once had a functional vitamin C gene and that it has become a redundant pseudogene. They also predict that that the human and chimp redundant pseudogenes will be more closely related to each other (less small point mutations) than the chimps will be with various other ape species. They look for the redundant vitamin C pseudogene in humans and chimps. And they find them. And sequence analysis shows the close relationship exactly as predicted.

So from the first original predictive testable hypothesis we have spawned a whole raft of new experiments, repeatedly tested and confirmed the predictions of the hypothesis and used the new mechanism to drive the next round of scientific hypotheses. Just so.

The Real Science

Of course at the moment the above is just my condensed version of the kind of events that led to the discovery of gene duplication and redundant pseudogenes. No scientific narrative is ever complete without references to the real science.

A pubmed search on the term “gene duplication” gives more than 3000 references, some of them are below.

Gene families include the hemoglobin/myoglobin family, the immunoglobulin superfamily, the family of seven-membrane-spanning domain proteins, the G-protein family, the serine protease family and the homeobox family.

Observation of gene duplication:

Brown, C. J., K. M. Todd and R. F. Rosenzweig, 1998. Multiple duplications of yeast hexose transport genes in response to selection in a glucose-limited environment. Molecular Biology and Evolution 15(8): 931-942.

Evolution of duplicate genes:

Hughes, A. L. and R. Friedman, 2003. Parallel evolution by gene duplication in the genomes of two unicellular fungi. Genome Research 13(5): 794-799.

Lynch, M. and J. S. Conery, 2000. The evolutionary fate and consequences of duplicate genes. Science 290: 1151-1155. See also Pennisi, E., 2000. Twinned genes live life in the fast lane. Science 290: 1065-1066.

Ohta, T., 2003. Evolution by gene duplication revisited: differentiation of regulatory elements versus proteins. Genetica 118(2-3): 209-216.

Park, I.-S., C.-H. Lin and C. T. Walsh, 1996. Gain of D-alanyl-D-lactate or D-lactyl-D-alanine synthetase activities in three active-site mutants of the Escherichia coli D-alanyl-D-alanine ligase B. Biochemistry 35: 10464-10471.

Zhang, J., Y.-P. Zhang and H. F. Rosenberg, 2002. Adaptive evolution of a duplicated pancreatic ribonuclease gene in a leaf-eating monkey. Nature Genetics 30: 411-415. See also: Univ. of Michigan, 2002, How gene duplication helps in adapting to changing environments.

The ‘missing’ vitamin C gene:

Nishikimi, M., R. Fukuyama, et al. (1994) “Cloning and chromosomal mapping of the human nonfunctional gene for L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase, the enzyme for L-ascorbic acid biosynthesis missing in man.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 269: 13685-13688.

Ohta, Y. and Nishikimi, M. (1999) “Random nucleotide substitutions in primate nonfunctional gene for L-gulano-gamma-lactone oxidiase, the missing enzyme in L-ascorbind acid biosynthesis.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1472: 408-411.

Some more examples of human redundant pseudogenes:

Rouquier, S., A. Blancher, et al. (2000) “The olfactory receptor gene repertoire in primates and mouse: Evidence for reduction of the functional fraction in primates.” PNAS 97: 2870-2874.

Haag, F., Koch-Nolte, F. et al. (1994) “Premature stop codons inactivate the RT6 genes of the human and chimpanzee species.” Journal of Molecular Biology 243: 537-546.

In conclusion

So the ID claim that evolutionary narratives are ‘just-so stories’ is patently, demonstrably false. Evolutionary narratives when they are first hypothesised are acknowledged to be tentative and a mere starting point for further investigation. Once the real science has been done, evolutionary narratives themselves can ‘evolve’ from tentative hypotheses to become tested, known and fully accepted mechanims of evolution. These mechanisms can then be used as the basis for further tentative hypotheses, in the confidence that the mechanisms themselves are well known and repeatedly demonstrated.

Let’s finish by once more contrasting this with the ID position. Given that ID is merely a ‘inference’ of design which is baseless without any detail concerning the designer, the mechanisms of the design, the timeframe of the design or the intentions of the designer, there is literally nothing we can pull out of here in order to make predictions or perform tests. Even Kiplings fantastical ‘Just So’ stories are theoretically testable. ID can’t even claim that.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.