Tag Archives: Java

Science Daily reports on genetic convergence in bats and whales

We have to start this post with the definition of convergence in biology.

In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

It is the opposite of divergent evolution, where related species evolve different traits.

On a molecular level, this can happen due to random mutation unrelated to adaptive changes; see long branch attraction. In cultural evolution, convergent evolution is the development of similar cultural adaptations to similar environmental conditions by different peoples with different ancestral cultures. An example of convergent evolution is the similar nature of the flight/wings of insects, birds, pterosaurs, and bats.

All four serve the same function and are similar in structure, but each evolved independently.

Jonathan Wells explains the problem that convergence poses for naturalistic evolution:

Human designers reuse designs that work well. Life forms also reuse certain structures (the camera eye, for example, appears in humans and octopuses). How well does this evidence support Darwinian evolution? Does it support intelligent design more strongly?

Evolutionary biologists attribute similar biological structures to either common descent or convergence. Structures are said to result from convergence if they evolved independently from distinct lines of organisms. Darwinian explanations of convergence strain credulity because they must account for how trial-and-error tinkering (natural selection acting on random variations) could produce strikingly similar structures in widely different organisms and environments. It’s one thing for evolution to explain similarity by common descent—the same structure is then just carried along in different lineages. It’s another to explain it as the result of blind tinkering that happened to hit on the same structure multiple times. Design proponents attribute such similar structures to common design (just as an engineer may use the same parts in different machines). If human designers frequently reuse successful designs, the designer of nature can surely do the same.

I’m a software engineer, and we re-use components all the time for different programs that have no “common ancestor”. E.g. – I can dump develop my String function library and use it in my web application and my Eclipse IDE plug-in, and those two Java programs have nothing in common. So you find the same bits in two different programs because I am the developer of both programs. But the two programs don’t extend from a common program that was used for some other purpose – they have no “common ancestor” program.

Now with that in mind, take a look at this post from Evolution News.


Earlier this year I wrote about how convergent genetic evolution is highly unlikely under neo-Darwinism, but makes perfect sense if you allow common design. An article in ScienceDaily titled “In Bats and Whales, Convergence in Echolocation Ability Runs Deep,” points to evidence that, in my opinion, might be best explained by common design.

According to the standard mammalian phylogeny, the common ancestor of bats and whales was not capable of echolocation. Thus, the ability to echolocate must have evolved independently, and bat and whale echolocation is often cited by evolutionists as a textbook example of convergent evolution. However, the ScienceDaily article reports that these similarities are not just phenotypic but extend down into the level of the gene sequences:

two new studies in the January 26th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, show that bats’ and whales’ remarkable ability and the high-frequency hearing it depends on are shared at a much deeper level than anyone would have anticipated — all the way down to the molecular level

Just as I noted that convergent genetic evolution was said to be “surprising” under neo-Darwinian thinking, this article reports, “The discovery represents an unprecedented example of adaptive sequence convergence between two highly divergent groups and suggests that such convergence at the sequence level might be more common than scientists had suspected.”

The typical Darwinist tack is to call similar structures “superficially similar”. I.e. – the appearance (phenotypes) are similar, but at the genotype (code) level, there is nothing in common. They have to say that because there is no common ancestor who shares the structure, so the biological information CANNOT be similar. A naturalistic theory can’t accommodate similarities at the genetic level unless there is a shared common ancestor who has those instructions. But guess what? When you actually take a closer look at the evidence… the biological information IS similar between bats and whales – AND THEY DON’T SHARE A COMMON ANCESTOR. So it exactly like the software design scenario, where the designer has put the same bits into two programs that were developed independently and don’t extend from a common program.

The Science Daily article explains more:

“The natural world is full of examples of species that have evolved similar characteristics independently, such as the tusks of elephants and walruses,” said Stephen Rossiter of the University of London, an author on one of the studies. “However, it is generally assumed that most of these so-called convergent traits have arisen by different genes or different mutations. Our study shows that a complex trait — echolocation — has in fact evolved by identical genetic changes in bats and dolphins.”

[…]”We were surprised by the strength of support for convergence between these two groups of mammals and, related to this, by the sheer number of convergent changes in the coding DNA that we found,” Rossiter said.

Read the whole thing at Evolution News. This is quality work by Casey Luskin.

A practical method for understanding intelligent design in two weeks

ECM sent me this awesome post from Uncommon Descent. The post explains how someone who doesn’t want to read about intelligent design can learn what intelligent design by doing. That’s right – you can learn about intelligent design by practicing intelligent design.


Of course a good example of design would be engineering in all its specialties. Unfortunately almost all fields of engineering are inaccessible to laymen for many reasons. But the good news is that there is a field that is theorically and practically available (at least at a basic level) to almost all people (or at least to scientific-minded people as most ID deniers are): computer science. Our suggested patent-pending method to become IDer is based on computer programming. Developing programs gives ID refuters a lot of advantages to learn ID.

(1) Computer programming is an activity where, differently from literature, philosophy, journalism and so on, a severe control overarches all the design cycle. In programming errors matter, also the minor ones are never condoned. This is good discipline for the student, to be always forced to correct his errors. If you write a book filled with errors, no worry, it will be published the same. If you write a program with one error nothing works. This is the difference between storytelling and programming. Usually there are at least two kinds of control or filter: at compilation time and at run-time. Any program works only if it passes the two filters.

[…](2) Computer programs don’t arise by unguided evolution. They entail CSI and only intelligence can create CSI. Whether software were generable by mean of randomness and machines, software houses wouldn’t need to pay legions of expensive programmers. When you are programming you see directly your intelligence at work. Eventually other programmers can help you but no other unintelligent thing can do the job for you.

(3) To develop programs is a good exercise to learn CSI, IC, nested functional hierarchies, sub-functions, structures, dependences among parts, meta-information, libraries, etc.

Intelligent design is nothing more than sequencing a large number of parts into a chain that has function. That’s it – that’s all it is. God is a software engineer. And if you’re interested in seeing some of the published research done by ID theorists, check out this list of their publications in scientific, peer-reviewed research journals. (H/T Truthbomb Apologetics)

There is only one problem with the post at UD, though. They recomment Perl and PHP for the exercise. Perl and PHP are crappy languages for any program longer than 100 lines that needs to be maintained longer than 2 months, or maintained by another developer who did not write it. The readability and maintainability of Perl and PHP are atrocious. Stick with languages like Java, Smalltalk or C#.

Other arguments for a Creator and Designer

To learn more about arguments for a Creator and Designer, check out some of my favorites below, taken from the big list of arguments and counter-arguments: