Biological


National Geographic recently published an article on a statistical study by biochemist Douglas Theobald, which attempts to give proof of universal common descent by looking at the odds of producing certain identical genes in all species given the starting positions of universal common descent, multiple ancestry, and creationism. National geographic titles it’s article, “All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds: Creationism called ‘absolutely horrible hypothesis’—statistically speaking.” The study quotes the odds of Creationism being correct as 1 in 10 to the 6,000th power.

Answers in Genesis has a rather succinct response:

The argument against multiple, unique origins of different life-forms, as stated by National Geographic News, is that “[i]f life arose from multiple species—each with a different set of proteins—many more mutations would have been required” and that “it’s highly unlikely that the protein groups would have independently evolved into such similar DNA sequences.” However, those claims obviously presuppose an evolutionary perspective—i.e., that similarity but separate origin could have only occurred via chance processes…

The obvious flaw with Theobald’s conclusions, as we pointed out, is that he assumes protein similarity must have come about either by common ancestry or by the process of evolutionary convergence. Creationists adopt neither view, however, because there is a better view available: common design. Even amid the chasm of differences between various organisms, fundamental similarities make sense in light of a single Designer who re-used many of the basic biological mechanisms throughout life.

How difficult it is for natural selection to converge the genomes of multiple species has little to do with whether Creationism is correct or incorrect. Creationists aren’t the ones who are arguing for genomic convergences, Darwinists are. As a software designer, I find it difficult to understand how or why anyone would argue that similar code sequences in different species in any way eliminates the design argument. Most coders use the same classes in multiple projects – it is the intelligent thing to do. To assume that the Creator of all life must have done otherwise and that any design similarities would need to be due to evolutionary convergence is itself an “absolutely horrible hypothesis”.

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by Jeffrey Tomkins, Ph.D., & Brian Thomas, M.S.

A recent high-profile article in the journal Nature released the results of a study with implications that shocked the scientific community because they contradict long-held claims of human-chimp DNA similarity. A previous Acts & Facts article showed that much of the research surrounding the often touted claims of 98 percent (or higher) DNA similarity between chimps and humans has been based on flawed and biased research. The problem is that the similarity has been uncertain because no one has performed an unbiased and comprehensive DNA similarity study until now. And the results are not good news for the story of human evolution…

In the 2005 chimpanzee genome project and resulting Nature journal publication, the sequence contigs were not assembled and oriented based on a map of the chimpanzee genome, but rather on a map of the human genome. Given the fact that the chimpanzee genome is at least 10 percent larger overall than the human genome, this method of assembly was not only biased toward an evolutionary presupposition of human-chimp similarity, but was also inherently flawed…

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Interesting, though not really surprising:

National Geographic News (October 9, 2009) – Many dinosaurs may be facing a new kind of extinction—a controversial theory suggests as many as a third of all known dinosaur species never existed in the first place.

That’s because young dinosaurs didn’t look like Mini-Me versions of their parents, according to new analyses by paleontologists Mark Goodwin, University of California, Berkeley, and Jack Horner, of Montana State University.

Instead, like birds and some other living animals, the juveniles went through dramatic physical changes during adulthood.

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Creation Evolution Headlines reported on new evidence that calls the popular bird-dinosaur evolution story into question. ScienceDaily has a fascinating post on the evidence, which is well worth reading in full. Here’s an excerpt:

ScienceDaily (June 9, 2009) — Researchers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental new discovery about how birds breathe and have a lung capacity that allows for flight – and the finding means it’s unlikely that birds descended from any known theropod dinosaurs.

The conclusions add to other evolving evidence that may finally force many paleontologists to reconsider their long-held belief that modern birds are the direct descendants of ancient, meat-eating dinosaurs, OSU researchers say.

“It’s really kind of amazing that after centuries of studying birds and flight we still didn’t understand a basic aspect of bird biology,” said John Ruben, an OSU professor of zoology. “This discovery probably means that birds evolved on a parallel path alongside dinosaurs, starting that process before most dinosaur species even existed.”

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(PhysOrg.com) — Scientists at Penn State and the National Institute of Genetics in Japan have demonstrated that several statistical methods commonly used by biologists to detect natural selection at the molecular level tend to produce incorrect results. “Our finding means that hundreds of published studies on natural selection may have drawn incorrect conclusions,” said Masatoshi Nei, Penn State Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and the team’s leader…

Nei said that to obtain a more realistic picture of natural selection, biologists should pair experimental data with their statistical data whenever possible. Scientists usually do not use experimental data because such experiments can be difficult to conduct and because they are very time-consuming.

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See also: Creation-Evolution Headlines

A couple of articles; one newer, one older:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2009) — The extinction of species is a consequence of their inability to adapt to new environmental conditions, and also of their competition with other species. Besides selection and the appearance of new species, the possibility of adaptation is also one of the driving forces behind evolution. According to the interpretation that has been familiar since Darwin, these processes increase the “fitness” of the species overall, since, of two competing species, only the fittest would survive.

LMU researchers have now simulated the progression of a cyclic competition of three species. It means that each participant is superior to one other species, but will be beaten by a third interaction partner. “In this kind of cyclical concurrence, the weakest species proves the winner almost without exception,” reports Professor Erwin Frey, who headed the study. “The two stronger species, on the other hand, die out, as experiments with bacteria have already shown. Our results are not only a big surprise, they are important to our understanding of evolution of ecosystems and the development of new strategies for the protection of species.”…

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Jan 22, 2009 — The “tree of life” is the central icon of Darwinism.  Charles Darwin’s only illustration in the Origin of Species was a drawing of organisms descending from a common ancestor in a branching tree pattern.  It has been reproduced, expanded, embellished and decorated into a primal symbol of what science believes about biology.  Why, then, are The Telegraph and New Scientist cutting it down?  “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life” is the title of the latter, and the former says, “Charles Darwin’s tree of life is ‘wrong and misleading’, claim scientists.”

These articles are notable not just for their timing (just three weeks before the international celebrations of Darwin’s 200th birthday), but for undermining three claims about evolutionary biology: one, that Darwin is just a small part of an evolutionary theory that has progressed far beyond Darwin’s own beliefs, and two, that evolutionary theory has no weaknesses that deserve to be taught to students.  Right now in Texas, evolutionists are seeking to strike down the “strengths and weaknesses” line in the state’s science framework on the basis that evolution is a fact (see Texans for Better Science Education and “All Eyes on Texas” in Evolution News).  A third idea undermined by these articles is that only creationists think there are weaknesses with Darwin’s theory.

The scientists complaining about the tree of life are not creationists.  We’ve heard from them before: Bapteste and Doolittle wrote two years ago in PNAS that the tree of life is a myth (02/01/2007).  In addition, The Telegraph quoted Dr. John Dupre, philosopher of biology at Exeter University, saying “If there is a tree of life it’s a small irregular structure growing out of the web of life.”  The article claims that other scientists have axe in hand: “Having uprooted the tree of unicellular life biologists are now taking their axes to the remaining branches.”  Bapteste acknowledges it sounds scary at first, but sees the conceptual revolution as a chance for biologists to free their minds.

Doolittle downplayed the revolution a little: “We should relax a bit on this,” he said.  “We understand evolution pretty well it’s just it is more complex than Darwin imagined.  The tree isn’t the only pattern.”  Maybe he is not wanting to play the role of revolutionary.  Dupre, however, is wielding his axe with gusto: “It’s part of a revolutionary change in biology.  Our standard model of evolution is under enormous pressure.”  He envisions an evolutionary model full of mergers and collaborations, not a branching tree.  The article then quotes Michael Rose, an evolutionary biologist at UC Irvine, saying, “The tree of life is being politely buried – we all know that.”  The public apparently doesn’t know that.  He went on with a more dramatic statement: “What’s less accepted is our whole fundamental view of biology needs to change.

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