Tag Archives: Lab

Is there a smooth pathway from micro-evolution to macro-evolution?

From Luke Nix who blogs at Faithful Thinkers.

Excerpt:

Macroevolutionary changes are a lot of microevolutionary changes, but they are in a specific series that follow a specific pathway. The missing premise in this argument is that the pathway from ancestor to claimed offspring (many generations down the road) is clear of obstacles.

In his book, “The Edge of Evolution” Michael Behe shows that scientists have observed such an obstacle in the lab. The obstacle was not time, it is in the genetic pathway that must be traversed if macroevolutionary changes are to take place in reality. Since an obstacle has been observed, we now have a false premise in the argument. Since there is a false premise, the argument fails. There is a difference between micro- and macro-evolutionary changes. A lot of microevolutionary changes are necessary for macroevolution, but they are not sufficient. The other sufficient condition (a clear genetic pathway) still has yet to be met. Since both sufficient conditions for macroevolution have not been met, it has not been demonstrated. And since changes over time has been demonstrated, there is a need to distinguish between the two. To prevent confusion about what we know to be true and what we don’t, this distinction must be made.

There is only one way that this can be overcome by the naturalist: find a pathway that would be clear by default in nature. Notice that I have added one more piece to the missing premise above: “…clear by default in nature“. I have to add that last qualification because as scientists are looking for a way to overcome this obstacle, they are introducing their own intelligence- fine-tuning the process, then “allowing nature to take its course”. Their conclusion of naturalistic macroevolution will depend on a premise that is founded on intelligence. That would undermine the whole argument for naturalistic (macro)evolution.

This is one of the ways to show that evolution is true – by showing a pathway to macro-evolutionary change in the lab. If people expect me to believe in the grandiose claims of fully naturalistic evolution through a stepwise process, then why can’t I see the pathway myself? If you make the claim that it happened, then I want to see the evidence for the claim.

Related posts

List of peer-reviewed papers supporting intelligent design now up to 50

Ann Gauger working away in her lab
Molecular biologist Ann Gauger working in her lab

From Evolution News.

Excerpt: (links removed)

While intelligent design research is a new scientific field, recent years have been a period of encouraging growth, producing a strong record of peer-reviewed scientific publications. New publications continue to appear, now listed at our updated page.

The current boom goes back to 2004, when Discovery Institute senior fellow Stephen Meyer published a groundbreaking paper advocating ID in the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. There are multiple hubs of ID-related research.

Biologic Institute, led by molecular biologists Doug Axe and Ann Gauger, is “developing and testing the scientific case for intelligent design in biology.” Biologic conducts laboratory and theoretical research on the origin and role of information in biology, the fine-tuning of the universe for life, and methods of detecting design in nature. That’s Dr. Gauger at the Biologic lab pictured above.

Another ID research group is the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, founded by senior Discovery Institute fellow William Dembski along with Robert Marks, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. Their lab has attracted graduate-student researchers and published multiple peer-reviewed articles in technical science and engineering journals showing that computer programming “points to the need for an ultimate information source qua intelligent designer.”

Other pro-ID scientists around the world are publishing peer-reviewed pro-ID scientific papers. These include biologist Ralph Seelke at the University of Wisconsin Superior, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig who recently retired from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany, and Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe.

Researchers have published their work in a variety of relevant technical venues, including peer-reviewed scientific journals, peer-reviewed scientific books from mainstream university presses, trade-press books, peer-edited scientific anthologies, peer-edited scientific conference proceedings and peer-reviewed philosophy of science journals and books.

These papers have appeared in scientific journals such as Protein ScienceJournal of Molecular BiologyTheoretical Biology and Medical ModellingJournal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent InformaticsQuarterly Review of BiologyCell Biology InternationalRivista di Biologia/Biology ForumPhysics of Life ReviewsAnnual Review of Genetics, and many others. At the same time, pro-ID scientists have presented their research at conferences worldwide in fields such as genetics, biochemistry, engineering, and computer science.

This body of research is converging on a consensus: complex biological features cannot arise by unguided Darwinian mechanisms, but require an intelligent cause.

My favorite area of ID research is the area of protein formation. I like to read about the research done by Doug Axe and Ann Gauger in that area. Research performed by Doug Axe at Cambridge University, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Molecular Biology, has shown that the number of functional amino acid sequences (ones that can form functioning proteins) is tiny:

Doug Axe’s research likewise studies genes that it turns out show great evidence of design. Axe studied the sensitivities of protein function to mutations. In these “mutational sensitivity” tests, Dr. Axe mutated certain amino acids in various proteins, or studied the differences between similar proteins, to see how mutations or changes affected their ability to function properly. He found that protein function was highly sensitive to mutation, and that proteins are not very tolerant to changes in their amino acid sequences. In other words, when you mutate, tweak, or change these proteins slightly, they stopped working. In one of his papers, he thus concludes that “functional folds require highly extraordinary sequences,” and that functional protein folds “may be as low as 1 in 10^77.”

The problem of forming DNA by sequencing nucleotides faces similar difficulties. And remember, mutation and selection cannot explain the origin of the first sequence, because mutation and selection require replication, which does not exist until that first living cell is already in place. I think that this very valuable research, indeed.

You can read more about the problem of protein synthesis in this previous post.

Is there a smooth pathway from micro-evolution to macro-evolution?

From Luke Nix. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Excerpt:

Macroevolutionary changes are a lot of microevolutionary changes, but they are in a specific series that follow a specific pathway. The missing premise in this argument is that the pathway from ancestor to claimed offspring (many generations down the road) is clear of obstacles.

In his book, “The Edge of Evolution” Michael Behe shows that scientists have observed such an obstacle in the lab. The obstacle was not time, it is in the genetic pathway that must be traversed if macroevolutionary changes are to take place in reality. Since an obstacle has been observed, we now have a false premise in the argument. Since there is a false premise, the argument fails. There is a difference between micro- and macro-evolutionary changes. A lot of microevolutionary changes are necessary for macroevolution, but they are not sufficient. The other sufficient condition (a clear genetic pathway) still has yet to be met. Since both sufficient conditions for macroevolution have not been met, it has not been demonstrated. And since changes over time has been demonstrated, there is a need to distinguish between the two. To prevent confusion about what we know to be true and what we don’t, this distinction must be made.

There is only one way that this can be overcome by the naturalist: find a pathway that would be clear by default in nature. Notice that I have added one more piece to the missing premise above: “…clear by default in nature“. I have to add that last qualification because as scientists are looking for a way to overcome this obstacle, they are introducing their own intelligence- fine-tuning the process, then “allowing nature to take its course”. Their conclusion of naturalistic macroevolution will depend on a premise that is founded on intelligence. That would undermine the whole argument for naturalistic (macro)evolution.

This is one of the ways to show that evolution is true – by showing a pathway to macro-evolutionary change in the lab. If people expect me to believe in the grandiose claims of fully naturalistic evolution through a stepwise process, then why can’t I see the pathway myself? Why do I have to take it on faith?

Related posts

Eighteen peer-reviewed scientific publications that support intelligent design

The list of eighteen papers dated 2000 or later that support ID theory is here. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Here are some from the last two years:

  • Michael J. Behe, ‘Experimental Evolution, Loss-Of-Function Mutations and “The First Rule Of Adaptive Evolution”’, The Quarterly Review Of Biology, Volume 85, No. 4, December 2010
  • A.C. McIntosh, ‘Information and Entropy — Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems?,’ International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(4):351-385 (2009)
  • William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, ‘Bernoulli’s Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search’, Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, San Antonio, Texas (October 2009): 2647–2652
  • William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, ‘Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success,’ IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A, Systems & Humans, Vol. 39 (5):1051-1061 (September, 2009)
  • William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, ‘The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,’ Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol.14, No.5, 2010, pp. 475-486
  • Winston Ewert, George Montañez, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II, ‘Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle,’ Proceedings of the 42nd Meeting of the Southeastern Symposium on System Theory, IEEE, University of Texas at Tyler, March 7-9, 2010, pp.290-297
  • Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, ‘Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism,’ Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. San Antonio, TX, USA – October 2009, pp. 3047-3053
  • Montañez G, Ewert W, Dembski WA, Marks II RJ (2010), ‘A vivisection of the ev computer organism: Identifying sources of active information’, BIO-Complexity 2010(3):1-6. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.3

The blog post on ID.Plus has links to all the papers.

I did not see them mentioning Ann Gauger’s recent paper I blogged about a while back, as well as Doug Axe’s recent paper that I blogged about a while back.

Animal rights activists oppose research that can save millions of lives

It is an axiom of my profession (software engineering) that “there is no silver bullet”. Every design decision represents a compromise – a trade-off – between two competing goals. As someone who loves animals very much, I think that it is important that my readers understand the benefit that we get when we allow medical researchers to experiment on animals to develop new cures.

The story is here. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)

Excerpt:

A new malaria vaccine has been shown to provide 100% protection in mice. If it can approach that level in people, it could slash the toll from one of the world’s worst scourges, according to Stefan Kappe of Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI). “We’re shooting for 90%-plus protection,” said Kappe, who is the leader of the international collaboration behind the vaccine. “I am extremely optimistic this will work. The initial trials on Kappe’s vaccine are tentatively scheduled to start in January at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is required.

Either we are going to save many human lives or save a few animal lives. It’s that simple. We cannot do both.