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Human Genome Confirms Evolution 933

xpccx writes "Here is a very interesting article at MSNBC by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He states that "The genome reveals, indisputably and beyond any serious doubt, that Darwin was right - mankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive animal ancestors. Our genes show that scientific creationism cannot be true." This is arguable but should spark quite a debate." Even Kansas agrees.
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Human Genome Confirms Evolution

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    And that he created us in his own image (thats what the bible says)

    Fortunately, this does not contradict the principle of evolution. We know, from common sense and genetic study, that humans evolved from bacteria. We know from the authors of the bible, that God created Adam in his image. Therefore, we can conclude that Adam was a bacteria and God's image like a bacteria. Michaelangelo's painting is all wrong -- the chapel's ceiling should have shown a wise, fatherly looking bacteria and a young naive bacteria, dramatically reaching toward one another with their cilia.

    Of course, we may later learn more about where the bacteria came from, and learn that God's true image is something more primative, a proto-bacteria, or a clump of amino acids that happen to have a replicating feature. But of course, these were created from some non-replicating amino-acids before being hit by a cosmic ray, and those acids came from simpler chemicals.

    In the end, creationism and reductionist science will harmoniously agree that God is a quark or something, and that the original subatomic particles (nay, the very first particle to have existed) was created in God's Image. We have the Good Book's incontrovertibly undeniable authority, combined with scientific reason, to thank for giving us this terribly important and useful insight.

    It makes me feel special to know, that somewhere in the grand universe, a benevolent all-knowing quark, with a great creative scheme that we humans can only speculate about, and omnipotent irresistable power, is listening to my prayers.

  • Hold the phone here :)

    While some of your criticisms are indeed valid, there are some misconceptions that I want to clear up while I have the time.

    1. Too many people do not make the distinction between "evolution" and the concept of "biological evolution by selection pressure". People who seek to disprove the second idea tend to abstract it to the first idea and then attack it on the grounds of the necessary ambiguity that exists around the ideas of the initial formation of the universe. If you want to attack evolution, please don't attack the Big Bang and then conclude that biological evolution is garbage.

    2. Another misconception concerns the idea of the intermediate form. Probably the biggest fallacy concerning this idea is the conception of the "missing link"; that is to say, if humans came from chimpanzees, then we sould be able to find an organism that looks half homo sapien, half chimpanzee. This will simply not happen. Biological evolution is not a linear enterprise. Let me explain what I mean.

    Your conception of evolution is like this:

    chimp --> INTERMEDIARY --> homo sapien

    However, this is not the case. Instead, think of it as like a family tree.

    INTERMEDIARY --> chimp
    |-> homo sapiens

    (sorry for the poor tree :) )

    The point is that chimps and humans shared a common ANCESTOR. There is no species that's directly between the chimp and the human. Missing links don't exist, only common ancestors.

    3. I don't believe the distinction between macroevolution and microevolution is justified. This point is harder to explain, but I will try my best.

    If I read you correctly, macroevolution produces new species and microevolution produces variations between species.

    ** I had a nice looking, visually descriptive continuum here, but the lameness filter got it **

    Say that the above continuums represent relative genetic diversity. The area in brackets represent the genetic range where one individual can successfully produce offspring with another individual. Therefore, in your view, microevolution can produce the variation within species A, but macroevolution makes no sense, because it is illogical to posit that incrememtal changes in species A can produce a species B that can't reproduce with members of the species of its parents.

    (told ya the explanation would be ugly, didn't I?)

    Now, look at it like this:

    ** the lameness filter is lame **

    Now, here is what is interesting. The above continuum represents what current theory would predict. Now, recognize that "microevolution" within species A could produce individuals with the characteristics of species B, and so on. However, go down to the bottom. The continuua of species A and species E have no overlap. THEREFORE, A and E COULD NOT INTERBREED. According to current definitions of species within binomial nomenclature, A and E are different species. Congratulations, you not have "macroevolution", which came to be as a direct consequence of successive cycles of "microevolution". Problem solved.

    I do have more to say to you; it seems that you have a skeptical, scientific mind, yet you have not know enough information to be able to make a completely rational evaluation of the theories and ideas in question at this time. If you would like to further discuss these issues with me, I would be happy to engage you in further conversation. You may contact me at

    As always, I invite discussion.

    -inq, posting anonymously because it's his right ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:10AM (#411241)
    During my decade of playing scientist, I often had to support myself by teaching. During these bouts of masochism, I would often be assigned to a lab section. In these clases I would find the depths of the complete lack of understanding of what proof is and is not, what science is and is not. From an educational standpoint, it was depressing. From a professional standpoint, I see the abject failure of the educational system to provide a clue to the masses. You can bring a student to knowledge, but you cannot make them think.

    That said, many of these lab reports used single or multiple "observations" to prove the thing being tested. That is, the assumption was made by the student that the appearance of the phenomenon was proof of the truth of the hypothesis. It was amazing how many people came in believing this nonesense.

    Scientific experimentation never ever proves anything. It can disprove only (the proof side involves checking on all possible permutations of things, and that is not possible in times long compared to the age of the universe). Hence, what one needs to investigate are the predictions of a theory. This was the other thing that students got wrong. A theory is a hypothesis, an idea, that makes predictions. If the theory does not make testable predictions, it is not a scientific theory. If you cannot objectively test an idea's predictions, how can you possibly assess the validity of the idea?

    "Scientific Creationism" makes no predictions. It is an attempt to codify a system of beliefs into a particular language. As such, it is not a scientific theory. If it made testable predictions (say structural predictions on the form of proteins in similar organisms) then it would be testable and therefore falsafiable.

    And that is the difference. Evolution, or rather, evolution-like theories, which make specific predictions are testable and falsafiable. If you find sufficient evidence that can convince a skeptical group of unbiased investigators that there is a disparity between the prediction and the observation, then you may rightly claim that the theory (or one area/mechanism) is false. The flip side of this is that if you find no such evidence, then your results are consistent with the theories predictions. One of the other more important aspects is that even if one particular mechanism in the theory is found not to be correct, it may not invalidate the entire theory, rather just that mechanism. From this, people build on existing theories with new theories that can explain the observations, and make more predictions. So even if Darwin's orginal mechanisms are not quite right, the latest proposed ones fit the data even better than before, and make testable predictions that are being looked at as we speak.

    Compare this to a biblical dogma derived "theory" which makes no testable predictions, provides no method of falsification, and generally does not allow room for disagreement. "Scientific Creationism" is not science (as it fails the testable hypothesis portion of the requirement for a theory). It is dogma. In a new set of clothes. Do not be fooled.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:32AM (#411242)
    All our genes are belong to Darwin.
  • That "even Kansas agrees []" bit seems almost tantamount to Bill Gates saying, in 2004 or so "That Linux 2.6 kernel, it's grrreat!"

    Alex Bischoff
  • Until the phenomenon of speciation is observed, either in the lab or in the wild, the case for the Descent of Man is a difficult one to make with the kind of certainty that this scientist is insisting he has established.

    Speciation has been observed. gives several instances. Of course, what you're calling for is not speciation, but something else which will not happen on human timescales, so you may as well go away unsatisfied.


  • The only faith I need is that 2+2 does indeed =4.

    You may be interested to know that the book Principia Mathematica by Russel and Whithead, a book which defined our system of mathematics from bare logic, took 211 pages before it got to the point where it could construct '1+1=2'.


  • No, religion doesn't ask anything, it simply tells and expects blind unwavering faith from the masses. There is no questioning the faith.
  • by hawk ( 1151 )
    I've always wanted to confront one of those phony preachers that show up on college campuses and accuse him of blasphemy whenhe goes into his creationist tirade?

    Seriously: he, the creature, is attempting to limit the power of the Creator by placing limits on how He can Create. Just plain blasphemous . . .

    but so far, my better judgment has stopped me :)
  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:38AM (#411254) Homepage
    The only form of creationism I know involves an omnipotent creator. Such a creater can obviously do anything (that's omnipotent for you), including faking evidence of evolution. However, any theory requiring an omnipotent creator is unscientific, as it can never be disproved. One requirement for a scientific theory is that is falsifable, i.e. it is possible to design an experiment with a possible outcome that would disprove the theory.

    Which makes me wonder, what is this "scientific creationism" thing? Creationism without an creator? Or just another abuse o fthe word scientific?

    Note that "scientific" does not mean "true". A theory can be scientific and false, or unscientific and true.

  • I find believeing that we are only here because of random chance impossible to believe, just look at the work around us - it's incredible, I can't believe it wasn't designed by God.

    God, being able to create the universe, must be even more complex than it, so his existence is even more incredible than its existance.


  • The universe popped into existance from nothing, a concept that doesn't seem to have any proof, and evades the next question: Where did the laws that determined why and how he universe was created Ex nihilo come from

    Quantum theory claims that things pop in and out of existance constantly, everywhere around us. So the universe itself might very well have popped up just like that, as a consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics.

    Now, where those laws come from, that's a really good question. Maybe they themselves are God? That's Spinoza's (and Einstein's) view, basically. In that view, scientists are the ultimate theologicians because they study God.


  • by slim ( 1652 )
    "Evolution: A natural force for creating 'higher' beings from 'lower' beings. "

    Well, I don't know what Darwin himself thought, but I (and I consider myself a Neo-Darwinian) don't see it that way at all. Evolution fills ecological niches -- there's no concept of "higher" and "lower". Lichen is as much a result of Darwinian evolution, and a success, as mankind is.

    However, I don't think mapping the genome did anything to "vindicate" Darwin -- his ideas have been vindicated for a long time, to anyone willing to stop taking things on faith, and look at the evidence.
  • Ok, =my= turn to play devil's advocate. :)

    The evidence in the michocondria (sp?) indicates that the current human population can be traced back to between 1-3 female ancestors, which doesn't openly contradict anything in the Bible.

    Second, the Bible (as currently exists) was always intended to be a HOWTO-Live guide and not a detailed history. On that basis, as the original poster noted, science and Christianity are orthogonal to each other and therefore one cannot falsify or contradict the other.

    Thirdly, the "absolute" literal interpretation of the Bible does seem to be a relatively recent thing. The early Celtic Church, for example, based most of it's teachings around pre-existing fairy stories that were adapted as needed.

    (Jesus, himself, is portrayed in the Bible as a guy who was more interested in story imagery than in teaching a History 101.)

    IMHO, the Church's changing attitude is not so much hypocritical ('cos that's where they started from). But, rather, during their literalist, absolutist phase, they were guilty of "heresy" and "blasphemy". (Which is kind-of ironic!)

    Last, but not least, the "truth" of the Bible depends on how you choose to define "truth". If you mean "the events recorded are 100% accurate", then probably no historic record on Earth is "true".

    If, on the other hand, you mean "the events recorded are symbolic of the state of the culture at that time, and it's spiritual integrity", then you're talking a whole different language.

    There again, if you mean "the events recorded are the remnants of verbal history that got written down after several major disasters, and where the writing itself was subject to a whole series of disasters, leaving For any Church to proclaim that they're right and anyone else is wrong is: (a) in violation of their own teachings, (b) stupid (given how little is left), and (c) ignorant (given that spiritual and physical matters really have very little to do with each other).

  • There is no point in trying to convince the "non-believers". The issue has been settled for so many years that the only people who even think of it as an issue are the ones who have religious objections. Religious objections are, by definition, not in the domain of science, and no scientist need waste their time answering them.

  • First of all....if there is a god, it would be sexless, so in all theory, you know nothing of what would constitute a supreme being...

    It makes sense that a God would be sexless, since there's only one (no reproduction). It doesn't follow that such a God would be genderless.

    and as far as "scientific" perhaps, you would have to think outside the box to put "science" and "god" in the same sentence.

    True. Same with "Science" and "Person" in the same sentence, and for the same reason. Ditto "history" and "science".

    why would a supreme being be the pinnacle of creation? Of Life? it not a common theme in stories that the created eventually become as powerful or evolve to the same level as their creator?

    A supreme being could by definition NOT be the pinnacle of creation -- if it were the pinnacle of creation, then something must have created it, and it therefore could not be supreme. A supreme being is outside of creation.

    A God, in addition, to being outside of creation, is uncreated and infinite. Finite cannot possibly grow to become infinite.

    Furthermore, a supreme being would have no reason to create different living things at, instead they would create the environment that would be conducive to the creation of living things...

    Quaint speculation, but hardly interesting.

    which brings us, are humans going to eventually "play god"? in a way we already do, but we will, and rightfully so, be able to create life from nothing...because being able to do so is in a way the created having the same powers as the creator...the pinnacle of evolution..

    To create life from nothing you have to first create a universe. At that point you would be a supreme being -- even a god. But not a God, unless you find a way to become infinite with respect to that universe. If so, you do become God for that universe. But not for the one you started in... That would require revolution, not evolution.

    -Billy (random philosophy)
  • Hmm. From what Ive heard, creationism is fundamentally rooted in the concepts of a recent creation or at least a seperate creation. In otherwords, either humans were created, (along with the rest of the world) 7000 years ago, or humans were created seperately from the other animals-- which may or may not have "evolved" from "lower" organisms. But then again, I don't subscribe to a creationist viewpoint.

    There have been many attemts to compare whole genomes-- and, in fact, you are likely to see such articles grace many a scientific journal. I'm not sure when a chimpanzee genome will be released-- the logistics of such a study are rather daunting. But rest assured, such a genome will eventually be published.
  • Creationist: We have the Bible, so creationism must be true!
    Article: We have the genome, so evolution must be true!

    See any difference? I sure don't. Articles like this with no scientific proof whatsoever are nothing but an embarrassment to those who believe in evolution. This guy shows a marked bitterness towards creationists for being "unscientific," and yet he's fallen into exactly the same trap.

    As for which I believe in, I do in fact believe in evolution. But honestly, when someone claims to be a scientist, they should be scientific about things, not like this.
  • by WaldoJMU ( 2651 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:41AM (#411267) Homepage
    This is a very well-written and interesting editorial... but it's not a scientific article.

    Dr. Caplan does an excellent job of pontificating his viewpoint - that Darwin was right and "all those who thump their bible and say there is no proof" are wrong; he very clearly and concisely tells us that the proof of evolution is in our genes, and that every scientist worth his/her salt agrees that there is no other explanation other than Darwinian evolution.

    However, not once does he lay out the proof of which he speaks. Whether Dr. Caplan's viewpoint is correct or not, this article is nothing more than an emotionally persuasive argument with no scientific credibility whatsoever. It's well and good to say that there is undeniable evidence of Darwinian evolution in the human genome - that's what most people have been hoping for, searching for; but if such a sweeping statement is going to be made, especially to the rather scientifically ignorant masses that MSNBC and other mainstream media outlets serve, then it must be backed up by the actual evidence in question, lest we fall into the trap of believing a Big Lie that simply gets repeated enough times.

    Science is detailed observation of the natural world, and this article offers no such observations, only emotionalism. I would greatly enjoy reading a scientific paper on this subject.
  • Science just has the annoying habit of being based on observation. Religions could probably make more headway if they followed suit and reflected the observable world, instead of asking us to ignore what we see and take someone's word for it from a few thousand years ago.

    Regarding evolution not falsifiable: I'm an armchair scientist, as opposed to a real scientist who knows what the fuck he's talking about, but it'd seem to me that to make something falsifiable, you have to come up with a list of things someone can look for, that if found, make the hypothesis (evolution) false.

    Two problems I see right away with this. First, we're always learning more about evolution - so what looks like a showstopping discovery today (punctuated equilibrium) may be part of the theory tomorrow. Which to anyone seeking to falsify evolution, probably looks like "those darn sneaky evolutionists will just explain away anything that looks like it might sink their boat."

    The other problem is that I suspect it IS kinda hard to write falsification statements for something so deeply rooted in observation. What can you do? You'd end up saying stuff like, if evolution isn't true, then we wouldn't expect to find animals appearing to be related in a treelike structure to each other. We DO find animals appearing to be related in such a way that they can be drawn on a family tree. Therefore the falsification statement sounds... flippant, like circular reasoning. But how else do you approach it? The 'proof' of evolution is in the observation - that's what started the theory after all. So to falsify evolution ENTIRELY you'd have to falsify the observation - you'd have to say animals that look similar, really aren't, you'd have to say the fossil record does not reflect age, etc.

    But imagine for a moment that they caught an animal that looks exactly like the fish-crab hybrid from Phantom Menace. Such a thing WOULD falsify evolution - assuming it wasn't a) mimicry, it only LOOKS half crustacean, b) a hoax, or c) a genetic experiment by humans, this creature would represent the undoing of the 'family tree' concept by combining the fully formed features of two ORDERS of animal in a way that could only be explained by throwing out the rules of genetics as we know them. I use this fictitious animal because our current knowledge says that crabs and fish are not closely related and with literal mountains of proof to back this up - scientists would be unable to make this creature work as a "common ancestor", unlike such missing links as Archaeopteryx. Were such an animal found, it would cast serious doubts on the mechanism of evolution - it would be about as close as you can get to falsification.
  • Macroevolution (development of more complex organisms from simpler ones): sorry, not proven. First, there are no 'intermediate' forms found. Every single one is complete and functional. Darwinism states that evolution is a gradual process, taking millions of years. Hence, almost 100% of fossils should be intermediate forms, with clear links. The links are missing.

    Why can't an intermediate form be complete and functional? I thought one of the tenets of evolutionary biology was that EVERY intermediate form had to be complete and functional - it has to function as an animal just well enough to reproduce and make another one just like itself.

    Indeed I think a case can be made that ALL lifeforms are 'transitional' - those that have hit the plateau simply haven't had any pressure put on them that might make mutational changes come in handy, yet. Look at something like the coelacanth, with what look like primitive transitional legs - to the coelacanth they aren't transitional, it makes excellent use of them so they're "complete". What happens is that that coelacanth's grandson might have longer 'fins' that give it some sort of edge - so its children have an easier time finding food than the ones with shorter fins, who must either move away (and find a niche) or die off. Which is exactly what happened: some of them got better and moved away, others found a spot in Madagascar where they could survive without needing to evolve much.

    We call lifeforms 'transitional' only because of our perspective - we've already seen things that evolved from them.
  • OK, I'm just a hobbyist and my brain is on order from Neptune while I battle a nasty cold, but here's my shot at them. Someone else could probably do better.

    Where has macro evolution ever been observed? What's the mechanism for getting new complexity such as new vital organs? How, for example, could a caterpillar evolve into a butterfly?

    Some guesses regarding vital organs:
    - Simpler animals don't need nearly as many moving parts as humans have. Hearts, etc. aren't needed in a tiny seagoing animal that can absorb nutrients directly into every cell without needing a bloodstream.
    - Organs wouldn't just spring fully formed into existence - they would evolve from simpler structures, or from each other.
    - The heart is just a muscle. Imagine a tiny heartless animal - but one with musculature (someone help me out and name an example, I'm sure there are examples in the deep ocean - a jellyfish maybe?) - due to a genetic accident a muscle ends up wrapped around a tube where oxygenated blood travels from one end of the animal to the other. Voila - a heart.
    - The brain is even simpler - a bunch of nerve cells accumulated at one end of the body, and it would simply get more complex over time.
    - Lungs: cells that transcribe O2 and CO2 all end up in the same place, and over generations get optimized into a more efficient shape. Also see above about muscles.
    - 'Filter' organs like kidneys: again, cells in the right place. A cell that can produce an enzyme to do something useful might well be useful if not connected to the right places - but once it mutates to be connected, it'll stay there through successive generations.
    - Eyes - a single light-sensitive cell. Another cell appears next to it and you have resolution. A blob of gelatin forms on top of it and you have a lens. LIVING examples of just about all stages of this lineage are known.

    Simple organs become more complex ones. The trick is getting the simple organ started.

    Where are the billions of transitional fossils that should be there if your theory is right? Billions! Not a handful of questionable transitions. Why don't we see a reasonably smooth continuum among all living creatures, or in the fossil record, or both?

    Everything that dies doesn't automatically fossilize. There WILL be gaps - huge ones - because only some tiny fraction of all SPECIES that have ever lived would be represented by individuals that happened to die in a spot conducive to fossilization.

    Who are the evolutionary ancestors of the insects? The evolutionary tree that's in the textbook: where's its trunk and where are its branches?

    Insects don't fossilize all that well. See above.

    What evidence is there that information, such as that in DNA, could ever assemble itself? What about the 4000 books of coded information that are in a tiny part of each of your 100 trillion cells? If astronomers received an intelligent radio signal from some distant galaxy, most people would conclude that it came from an intelligent source. Why then doesn't the vast information sequence in the DNA molecule of just a bacteria also imply an intelligent source?

    Most of that DNA sequence is junk - which implies a random source, or an intelligent source that leaves scrap materials in the finished product.

    How could organs as complicated as the eye or the ear or the brain of even a tiny bird ever come about by chance or natural processes? How could a bacterial motor evolve?

    From simple to complex. For an eye all you need is one light-sensing cell - anything that happens to mutate near it later will probably help it. Same with the ear - probably started with the same touch-sensitive cells that currently allow deaf people to feel low frequencies.

    The brain of a tiny bird? Made of the same stuff as the brain of an earthworm. Only its size is different - and the complexity therein is a consequence of its size. Study how the brain works and this will make more sense than my ramblings.

    If the solar system evolved, why do three planets spin backwards? Why do at least 6 moons revolve backwards?

    Um... I wasn't aware the allele frequency of planetary populations changed over time, or that any reputable scientist ever said they did. Planets don't evolve.

    The planets and moons that spin and revolve backwards were probably struck by large objects - stray moons, asteroids, or some such.

    Why do we have comets if the solar system is billions of years old?

    Because the processes that make a solar system didn't stop billions of years ago?

    Where did all the helium go?

    Since I don't know what this refers to, I'll guess: into the sun?

    How did sexual reproduction evolve?

    I don't know.

    If the big bang occurred, where did all the information around us and in us come from? Has an explosion ever produced order? Or as Sir Isaac Newton said, "Who wound up the clock?"

    Tunguska, 1908, made a random forest into a nice neat radial array of logs. Or is that not the kind of order you're looking for?

    Creation science has yet to explain where God came from, so I suppose if we can't accept any theory that hasn't been explained ALL the way back, then no belief system will ever be valid. At any rate, evolutionary biology doesn't deal with the Big Bang - you want Quantum Physics 101, next door.

    Why do so many of the earth's ancient cultures have flood legends?

    Because floods are a natural occurrence? And this is a silly question anyway - wouldn't all the earth's ancient cultures be descendants of Noah and his family, and thus have a nearly complete version of the Biblical flood in their legends instead of just 'there was a great flood the year that so-and-so was king'?

    Why don't the Chinese, with an 8000 year recorded history, mention having done time on the Ark?

    Where did matter come from? What about space, time, energy, and even the laws of physics?

    Dunno. You want Quantum Physics 101, next door.

    How did the first living cell begin? That's a greater miracle than for a bacteria to evolve to a man. How did that first cell reproduce?

    Maybe life isn't the miracle you think it is. What's a virus, after all, but the halfway point between living and dead. Not that bacteria would have evolved from virii (at least not as we know them today, since a virus can't reproduce on its own), but the concept is still there - a primitive thing made of DNA and RNA and simple proteins, that in the presence of enough of the compounds it's made out of, makes two of itself through a chemical process.

    Just before life appeared, did the atmosphere have oxygen or did it not have oxygen?

    Life doesn't depend on an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Before life appeared - and probably for a long time after - the atmosphere would probably have been something like ammonia.

    Why aren't meteorites found in supposedly old rocks?

    They'd have been destroyed or reshapen by the forces that laid down the old rocks, perhaps?

    If it takes intelligence to make an arrowhead, why doesn't it take vastly more intelligence to create a human? Do you really believe that hydrogen will turn into people if you wait long enough?

    It doesn't take intelligence to make a snowflake, a much more complex device than an arrowhead.

    Which came first, DNA or the proteins needed by DNA--which can only be produced by DNA?

    Ain't nothing magical about those proteins.

    Can you name one reasonable hypothesis on how the moon got there--any hypothesis that is consistent with all the data? Why aren't students told the scientific reasons for rejecting all the evolutionary theories for the moon's origin?

    I see we're back to analyzing the genetic properties of planetary bodies again. I dunno - the moon could be left over from the formation of the solar system, like most moons, or it could be accumulated from debris from a massive impact into Earth early in its existence. It could be a captured moon from elsewhere in the solar system. The processes that made the planets of the solar system - namely, GRAVITY - also made littler planets too, planets that by being just far enough out from the sun, would have found themselves pulled into orbit around planets.

    That the moon orbits with one side always facing Earth sorta hints that it wasn't captured, but formed in place from debris already orbiting Earth. Something like an early impact on Earth throwing up a huge amount of debris into orbit, maybe looking something like Saturn's rings but even larger - and over time, this spinning ring would have accumulated into a solid body.

    Why won't qualified evolutionists enter into a written, scientific debate ?

    It's been tried. Why won't qualified creationists participate in such a debate without eventually resorting to "God works in mysterious ways" when cornered?

    Left out the bit about all of Earth's geologic features being explainable by the Flood, because their 77 pages of well-written refutations can be sent running home with one silly heretical question: Where did all the water GO?

    Ordinarily I wouldn't waste the bandwidth, since my karma's already at 50, but what the heck. :-)
  • by freeBill ( 3843 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @08:19AM (#411273) Homepage

    ...against scientific creationism does not mean that scientific creationism is, in fact, right.

    Note that Caplan (who has said much more interesting things than this: see, for instance, his interview on cloning on the Charlie Rose Show) may not be actually saying as much as some people are assuming he's saying. He specifically states that the Human Genome Project results disprove "scientific creationism," not creationism. Since "scientific creationsim" refers to a specific movement, it is entirely possible they have made statements and predictions which are contradicted by this new evidence. He goes on, however, to imply that the new evidence proves something more broad about creationism in general, which is clearly false.

    I believe that the best arguments against scientific creationism are not scientific arguments, but moral and religious arguments. I will offer two below: one theological and one practical.

    My theological argument is based on the fact that I believe in a God of truth. If God created the world 4,000 years ago or so, then he created it as if it had existed for billions of years and as if life evolved slowly over time. Thus he is a God of deceit. Since it is more important to me that God be truth than that He created the universe a few thousand years ago, I choose to believe that those who believe the Bible says the universe was created (relatively) recently are wrong. Note that, even if I chose to believe that God was deliberately deceiving me, I would still have to decide whether I should accept that deception as what He wants me to believe.

    When I go to the Bible to see what it says, I find that the statements there are vague and contradictory. It is not at all clear that the 7-day creation story is to be taken literally. There are other places where creation appears to take place over a long period of time.

    I also note that my belief that God is truth is not unambigously supported in the Bible. While there are several places where "God is truth" is clearly indicated, Jeremiah just as clearly says that he saw God lie to other prophets in order to trick Ahab into an ill-starred battle. The belief on which I found this theological argument is a belief and nothing more. But I think it is preferable to the alternative.

    We have seen other times when religious communities believed just as strongly as the creationists that the Bible said things which in the end proved to be untrue. An obvious example was the geocentrism on which many scientists were persecuted during the Copernican revolution and beyond. Today we do not believe that the Bible says the earth is the center of the universe, and it clearly is not. I suspect someday we will see virtually universal agreement that the Bible does not say anything one way or the other about evolution or about Darwinism. And I suspect we will find the current debate as quaint and silly as we now view the torture and excommunication of those who suggested the sun was at the center of our solar system.

    This historical perspective leads me to my second argument against scientific creationism: the practical argument.

    As a practical matter, it seems like the goal of Christians should be to generally encourage belief in God and to avoid things which discourage belief. I believe this is the central tenet of evangelism, that we should emulate the life of Christ, the Evangelist.

    Observing history, it is clear to me that the Copernican revolution did some damage to belief in Western Europe not because Copernicus sought to sow disbelief but because the assumption of the church was that he would. By tying belief to a doctrine which was not in fact clearly indicated by scripture, the church ensured that (when the evidence came in supporting the heliocentric model) the community of Christianity was damaged far beyond what it would have been had it not taken such a dogmatic stand.

    It seems to me that, as a practical matter, we Christians have a moral obligation to avoid taking a stand on evolution which will be as damaging to our community as was anti-Copernican dogma.

    And it should be made clear this is, in fact, what most Christians believe. The vocal minority of scientific creationists may get the most press. But surveys show that many, if not most, people who believe in God (again a majority) also believe in evolution. Remember that Darwin was trained as a minister and never believed he was attacking the Bible or belief in God.

    Indeed, the head of the public effort to decode the human genome, Francis Collins, is very open about his Christianity and his belief that genomics do not in any way threaten God. Here is a quote from him:

    God is not threatened by all this, I'm happy to report. I think God thinks it's wonderful that we puny creatures are about the business of trying to understand how our instruction book works because it's a very elegant instruction book indeed.
  • The "theory of evolution" has more proof than the "theory of quantum physics" does. That machine you just used to type in this nonsense on was designed to work assumming the "theory of quantum physics" was true. I can't believe you paid money for it, considering how unlikely in your mind it was that it would work!
  • As many people pointed out, nothing prevents "god" from having created the earth with all these similar genomes and everything. In fact, He could have created the earth last thursday, including our genes, all our memories, and all these old SlashDot posts. It is quite impossible to disprove creationism.

    However if creationists are religious, they should know that they are violating god's will! It is pretty obvious that god wants us to believe in evolutions.

    Think about it: the earth was created with a vast mass of evidence that evolution happened. If everything God does is for a purpose, what is the purpose of this? Obviously God wants us to believe in evolution. Who knows what the punishment is for failing Him and questioning the very things he created? The creationists better watch it, they may be going to hell...

  • by jamiemccarthy ( 4847 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:46AM (#411277) Homepage Journal
    In other news, the NEAR probe's landing on Eros finally proves, once and for all, that Copernicus' heliocentric model of the solar system was correct!

    I'm glad we can finally know for sure that Aristotle's earth-centered model [] was wrong.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • Err, no. All science is based on the idea that all scientific theories must be able to be tested, that nothing is provable, only disprovable, and that if a theory is disproved, then it must be modified or abandoned. I'm really paraphrasing here, but that's the gist of it.
  • What nobody refuses to explore is how humans evolved so rapidly in comparison with all other species. [&nbsp...]

    When we achieved sentience (and how that happened is wide open to debate), we took control of our own evolution, so to speak.

    Confronted with climactic change, other species would migrate to new climes, evolve to cope with the change, or crawl into a corner and die. Not us. We invented the plow, agriculture, and the calendar. That way we knew how to plant, what to plant, and when to do it. And in doing so, we survived and prospered. Rather than evolving our physiology through multiple generations of breeding, we evolved our skill set.

    The reason we progressed so quickly is that sentience and intellect are vastly more flexible than selective breeding. Changing your physiology takes hundreds of generations. Changing your mind takes but a moment.

    Now that we have completed the Genome Project, it will be interesting to see if we seize ultimate control over our evolution, and risk tweaking our genetic code. Some would say such manipulation is "unnatural." But since we are ourselves creatures of nature, it could be argued that such manipulation is perfectly natural. The creature is evolving by directing selection at itself; the result is that it will either naturally delete itself, or that it will survive and prosper.

    The biggest risk from such exploration is our chronic lack of forward-thinking. ("I need water; I'll build a dam here. Oh dear, this standing pool of water I've created is breeding mosquitos and infecting everyone with malaria.") As such, since it is our own lot we wish to improve by such tinkering, I would Modestly Propose that all genetic experimentation take place on live human subjects. This would tend to strongly encourage experimenters to think things through to the necessary degree before undertaking anything.

    This also tends to suggest that, at least initially, the safest forms of human genetic tinkering are those which are purely cosmetic in nature (prettier eyes, straighter teeth, etc.). While this may seem trite, which do you think would be the wiser creation on this tiny resource-starved planet: People with rainbow-colored irises, or a normally-breeding uber-human living to 160 years and immune to nearly all disease?


  • We used to think the earth was flat -- We know it's round, now
    We used to think the universe revolved around us -- We know the world revolves around the sun, which revolves around the center of the galaxy, etc ...

    So... When you really think about it, No we were not Created.

    This is a non-sequitor of extreme magnitude.

    How does anything you said have anything to do with your conclusion? All you said was "we used to think something, but oops, we were wrong." What exactly does that prove? That stuff we think now might turn up to be wrong? No kidding.

    How, pray tell, does the roundness of the earth have anything to do with whether it, or us, were Created?

    I'm not going to bother with a long disclaimer about what I particularly believe, but it isn't strict 6000-year creationism. Not that you did anything to make me that way.

    By the way, the word you are looking for is "bigot". And remember, it's not only someone else who is the bigot when they don't listen to you. It's a two way street, and it annoys the piss out of me when someone with the current "in" belief system calls anyone who disagrees with them a bigot.

  • Yeah, and this annoys me somewhat. You will never be able to get these people to see your point of view.
    They have faith in God, and thats all they need. The fact that the rest of us thinks its silly at best, and ludicrous at worst seems inconsequential to them.

  • by bgarrett ( 6193 ) < minus berry> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:36AM (#411289) Homepage
    Please distinguish between the "Bible-thumping zealots" and people who actually practice the tenets of Christianity while at the same time taking a reasonable viewpoint. By "reasonable" I do not mean "scientifically mainstream", however. The fact that living things change over time is quite plainly true. The fact that all DNA is constructed from the same basic building blocks is also true. The revelation that a fraction of the former estimates for human DNA are actually relevant is interesting, but ultimately it doesn't prove anything along the lines of "we are descended from bacteria". The fact that we may have genetic sequences in common with bacteria is not in itself proof; we're also composed in part from minerals like iron, and I see nobody suggesting that human beings evolved from rock. Shared components do not in and of themselves prove ancestry.
  • Christianity is a mighty fine death religion.

    Which is ironic, because I'm pretty sure that there are several things that are undoubtedly true about Christ's goals during his later years:
    - to reform the Jewish religion (not abolish it, and not to create a new religion).
    - to get people to be nice to each other (not to punish each other with threats of damnation).
    - to get people to worship god (not to worship his own self).

    Instead, what happened is that his reforms were hijacked by Paul, who founded a new religion based on the worship of the dead man, and got really self-righteous about being mean to people.

    I'm pretty sure "Christianity" is the antithesis of what Christ wanted.

    Feel free to counterargue this, but please don't resort to flaming me on a personal level. That ain't nice, and it certainly ain't Christian. (If you're not Christian, and you do flame me, please explain why!)

  • Nah, I don't believe that the essay is correct.

    I'm pretty sure the Jesus story is constructed of wholecloth. I figure there was a fellow running around about 2000 years ago who tried to implement reform in the Jewish church, and was killed for it.

    And I figure the story has been embellished to the point of myth. Which is where the essay you refer to does quite well: it points out a bunch of myths that were used to embellish the Christ story.

    And in the end, I'm believe that Christianity is not at all what the original reformist agitator had intended to accomplish.

  • by caveman ( 7893 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:35AM (#411299)
    If DNA is god's signature, then all we need is his credit card number. And behold, let there be sixteen-way xeon systems! And the users did rejoice, and did feast upon the CPU cycles.
  • Your missing the point entirely.

    Faith is belief *without* any evidence at all. This is nearly the same meaning as the word "irrational".

    Science demands evidence before stating something. Unless you're using a different dictionary than the rest of humanity, accepting something *with* evidence cannot by any stretch of the language be called faith.

    It's very simple. If I am not being clear, please consult your nearest dictionary.

  • Evolution is NOT a theory.

    Evolution is a fact. All life is evolved from other life forms. That much was obvious even in the 1800's.

    The debate in scientific circles is how this evolution happened. Did animals evolve through process A, or process B? Those theories are confirmed or falsified all the time.

    Hope this clears things up for you.
  • Scott played Bryan. He's the one who had his faith shaken and he died in the courtroom. I know that in the real trial, Darrow (the lawyer) ripped Bryan's testimony up, and the Judge had to stop the line of questioning. I don't know if Bryan actually collapsed in the courtroom though.

  • You and the other person who replied to me are completely misunderstanding me.

    Evolution is a fact. Species change from one form to another over time. Speciation has been observed at least twice, both in the laboratory and in the wild. No one disputes that evolution occurs.

    There is a theory about how evolution occurs: It is called "The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection". That theory has a great deal of support. There is another theory out there. It is called "The Theory of Evolution through Acquired Characteristics." Otherwise known as Lamarkian Evolution. Lamarkian evolution does NOT have any support at all, and the theory is not favored by anybody now.

    Get it?

    1) Evolution is an observed fact.

    2) Scientists have come up with theories to explain the fact of evolution.

    3) The Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection is the currently supported theory.

    4) The Theory of Evolution through Acquired Characterists is not favored anymore.

    5) Both theories described evolution. Both theories were about the fact that species change over time. One theory proved useful, one did not.

    I hope that was more clear this time. As you can see, I am right. :-)
  • Pretty good summary, but you are missing some up to date information. Everything started with a Big Bang Actually, many people are now thinking that everything starting with a big expansion. There is no singularity. See supersymmetry and string/M theory. Spontaneous formation The SanteFe institute is doing some wonderful research on complex systems and organization. They have a number of theories and experiements which show how this can happen in a straightforward manner. Autocatalytic sets are the main interest here. magine an explosion. Stuff goes in all directions, approx. the same speed. Because in case of Big Bang, there's nothing to hit, the matter would fly in all directions forever, without hitting anything and without stopping, without forming anything. To particles cannot collide if they have the same speed. A nice thought, but your mising the effects of quantum mechanics, relativity, and forces in general. We do these types of tests all the time in particle accelerators and they show how all sorts of odd things happen when subatomic particles interact. Once you have atoms, gravity and chemistry / fusion kick into play. Generation of more complex chemical compounds. Not proven. Generation of amino-acids from the elements in primordial soup is chemically impossible. Nope, they have made amino acids in recreated environments similar to the primordial soup. However, the more recent more accepted theory is that these complex chemical seeds cam from space. They have found complex organic molecules, including amino acids, in space. They do and can form in a wide variety of places. Abiogenesis True, but there is very attractive research on this as well. See the autocatalytic sets above. Also, there are a number of simple aminoacid type chemicals when combined form a structure amazingly similar to a cell membrane. But i digress... Macroevolution(development of more complex organisms from simpler ones): sorry, not proven. First, there are no 'intermediate' forms found. Every single one is complete and functional. Darwinism states that evolution is a gradual process, taking millions of years. Hence, almost 100% of fossils should be intermediate forms, with clear links. The links are missing. There is a growing body of evidence that evolution is *not* a linear process, but has distinct jumps from organism to organism, feature to feature. Similar to the way quantum of energy is not a continuum, but a finite jump. This has to do with autocatalytic sets, so see those again. Also, the process would be similar to various adaptations occuring in stealth mode in an orgism, until a critical mass is reached, and the trait spontaneouly minifests. The details are many and very interesting, so I would encourage you to check them out.
  • Is how I find the article. Whether or not you believe in evolution, it seems quite unacceptable to me for a scientist/journalist to make bold and provacative claims about how the now-completely-mapped human genetic code proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that his religion is the right one after all (I say this because the article seems to make clear to me that evolution is his religion), and then not explain it with one shred of evidence!

    Gee, I'm glad your religion does not ever make such profound assumptions!

    I get offended when religious fanatics attempt to remove evltion from school curriculmn entirely. I get a bit miffed when they call all scientific reasearch, evidence, and effort into learning our ourigins complete and utter fiction with no justification.

    Perhaps you need to take a look in the mirror and see the kind of prejudices you hold against any type of scientific evidience that does not agree with your assumptions.
  • but you can't prove that God doesn't exist to those who have experienced Him.

    Which god are you referring to? There are thousands of thousands of religions with all sorts of gods.

    As long as you dont mean to imply that only your god of your religion is true, then I dont have any beef with your self induced relationship with this psuedo-being.

    I get really annoyed at people in any religion saying theirs is the only one thats true! Surprise! Everyone thinks their religion is true. But that doesn't make any of them right.
  • God is not a programmer, he is a comedian.

    Enjoy the humor that is the human condition.
  • I see no proof in this article. All I see is a report about some scientist claiming to have found the truth.

    That's right. The proof is not in the article, it would take far to long to explain it all. Read the research. See how common genes have travelled the various paths among organisms and the stepwise refinement introduced in species.

    If you want to learn the truth you have to look for it! Scientific understandinf does not come through prayer (like faith).
  • But the only scientific evidence he has is that some bacteria DNA is found.

    Whoah, where did you pull that out of? Have you not been paying attention to the human genome project? We have a ton of genes sequenced for a ton of species. This is not all based on a single bacterium!

    Get educated man!
  • This article is not the proof, it is about the proof, which is from a large volume of genetic information from the humand genome, and many many other species, including the lowly bacteria, which comprise a complete tapestry of evoltionary history among a large group of species.

    Before dismissing things offhand because they challenge your faith, try reading the deatils, and actually checking out the research refered to in the article. There is a surprising amount of work that has been done which most people overlook.

    Perhaps because it is far easier to pray and have faith in god, than it is to work and toil with intellectually chalenging conecepts to understand the mysteries of life.
  • You absolutely, possitively (in science) CANNOT get something from nothing.

    Apparently you have not heard of quantum mechanics. We get a ton of matter created and destroyed at random for nothing. Go look up hawking radiation for starters...
  • No, but the source of hawking radiation is the fact that matter and anti-matter spontaneously form for no reason, and at random all the time. Like magic.
  • by PureFiction ( 10256 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:16AM (#411322)
    I BELIEVE that God created everything.

    Do you beleive this because you want to, or because of cold hard evidence presented to you?

    Evidence for evolution: 122,345,566 pieces of evidence.

    Evidence for creationism, aka GOD: 1 billion people attesting their faith.

    Hmmm.. which one seems more logical. A large cult of fanatics? Or maybe reprodcuble, logical scientific fat... Hard choice!
  • Sorry, the Pope hasn't advocated biblical creationism ever. The Roman Catholic Church has embraced evolution from very early on. l

    Read all about it.
  • I don't think that natural selection is falsifiable either, and I've read quite a bit of Popper (although I side more with Hempel on matters of confirmability/etc.)

    "Evolution as a concept like logic and math" is an analogue to "the 'glass onion theory of the universe' as a concept like logic and math" or "the 'Genesis account of creation' as a concept like logic or math" basically invites a Kuhnian paradigm shift -- because we see the world through a given paradigm, we are forced to interpret everything we see as fitting in to that paradigm, rendering all our theories useless when that paradigm is supplanted.

    If we really wanted to get into the Philosophy of Science on this debate (which, I believe, is valuable), we ought to break out the underdeterminists. :-)

    I still maintain that the evolutionists who choose to debate the "scientific creationists" not only sink to the creationists' level, but below -- the creationists *never* go ad hominem....

  • If we observed any of these things it would lead us to believe that evolution was a bad theory. That is what it means to be falsifiable. That none of these falsifiers is true leads us to believe the theory.
    Due to the absurd length of time for natural selection (speciation, not peppered-moth-style adaptation) to run its course, predictions based on the theory of natural selection are not possible, and therefore it is not falsifiable. Using pre-existing criteria as a defense for evolution is no substitute, because (as any number of "primitive cultures" and religious zealots have proven) it is possible to account for any number of pre-existing conditions in a theory. Perhaps we are having a vocabulary disagreement? I use "falsifiable" in the way that Karl Popper did.

    My point remains that speciation via natural selection is not observable and not falsifiable. Furthermore, I still maintain that evolutionists, rather than acknowledge their intellectually and scientifically shaky ground, resort to the same sort of mindless dogmatism, irrationality, and name-calling that they accuse the creationists of. Those who claim that science is borne of observation need to recall that the Greek pantheon of deities was borne of observation, as well (cf. Hesiod).

    In any case, it's not every day that I get the honor of a rebuttal from a legend. :-)

  • It's a mistake to think that because some particular experiment can't be done that there is no way to test a theory. Instead of sitting and waiting for speciation to happen, we can also, for example, examine the fossil record for evidence of the ancestry of current species. When we do, what do we see? Zillions of species, appearing and dying, the new obviously related to the old, all arranged in neat cladographic hierarchies.
    I'll ignore the problems with the 3.5 billion year gap in the fossil record and the problems with radiocarbon dating (especially in metamorphic rocks) and stick to the philosophical issues here. Natural selection details a "what happened", but it does so in a way that implies a particular "why it happened". Evolutionists claim that because of their (at times admittedly tenuous) evidence for a particular perception of "what happened" that their explanation for "why it happened" is correct. This is somewhat akin to claiming that Nostradamus had the ability to predict the future (a "why") because people have been able to reconcile some of his statements with their perception of reality (a "what").

    The real reason why evolution is not science, though, is visible in the last paragraph of your reply -- one can replace "speciation" and its relatives with "correct predictions" and its ilk; and "evolution" with "astrology", and the last paragraph will be just as sensical as it is now.

    Theories predict a "why". Evolutionists merely have a "what" -- and their "what" depends on their perceptions, which are heavily influenced by their unfalsifiable "why" -- their "what" may or may not even be correct. I sense that publishing a paper against the fossil record would have similar consequences for a modern scientist as Copernicus' rejection of Ptolemaic astronomy had for many before Copernicus.

    Read Popper; also read Carl Hempel's _Philosophy of Natural Science_.

  • You are continuing to miss the entire point.

    Some kinds of astrology cannot be falsified scientifically, and neither can evolution. As a result, either theory is science. Falsifiability is what we are concerned with, not truth or falsity. A false theory can still be a scientific theory, but a non-falsifiable theory is pseudoscience.

    Since natural selection is a theory about why the world came to seem to a believer in natural selection as it does, it is not falsifiable, unless we can observe the entire process by which the world came to be that way. Falsifying the believer's perception of the world is irrelevant to falsifying the hypothesis, since another, equally non-scientific hypothesis could be proposed about the newly-accepted state of the world.

    The point is not that evolution is wrong, only that evolution is not scientific, and that to believe in evolution is as irrational as to believe in any other theory of first causes.

    I strongly suggest you read some philosophy of science before continuing in this discussion.

  • by woggo ( 11781 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:09AM (#411329) Journal
    The real problem with this debate is that it invariably deteriorates (rapidly, even in serious articles) into evolutionists cracking jokes about Bible-thumping and fundamentalists. Now I don't agree with fundamentalists, but this pattern really annoys me, because it seems to be little more than a foil for the fact that the evolutionists don't have a falisfiable theory either.

    I will say that evolution is one of the better explanations we have today, but phlogiston [] was once the best explanation we had for combustion. Evolution is not falsifiable -- even if it were, no amount of science can disprove a mystical, revealed truth.

    I guess I could also bring Nietzsche and Wittgenstein's views of "science as a religion, flawed like all the others" into the fray, but I fear I will catch enough heat for this.

  • It will be interesting to see how unique human
    DNA is. The next "highest" animals fully sequenced
    have been a a worm and a fly.
    The lab mouse DNA should be published later this year
    and will make and interesting comparison.

  • At the time of Darwin and Huxley there
    were no known fossils between apes and humans.
    However, now there are dozens of hominoid
    supspecies going back continuously for six
    million years.

    In fact there are too many "missing links".
    The issue is sorting out likely ancestors versus
    side branches.
  • Science is perpetual doubting,
    sorting out what is supported and what isn't.
    Scientific theories have changed considerably
    during my lifetime and will continue,
    yet that is the way I choose to "know" things.

    Just in the last month, the genome theory made
    considerable adjustments. First, humans have
    a smallish number of genes, a quarter of previously
    believed. Second, we may not be able to discover
    all the genes due to their complexity. There are
    introna and exons, poly-expression of several to thousands
    of different proteins per gene.

    I would not doubt if ideas change significantly again in a few years.
  • Umm no, its actually a theory. Thats why they call it the Theory of Evolution.

    It has not been proven and mostlikely will never be proven. I believe its true as well as most of the other free thinkers in this world. This does not mean its fact.
  • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @08:18AM (#411347)

    No matter what side of the issue you're on, this article offered nothing to decide the matter. It didn't even look like it was trying to convince a non-believer, just a bluff to try to sound superior to "those who thump their bibles." (I just did a Google search on Caplan, it seems like that's his standard level of dialogue when he's censoring or chastizing a Christian point of view.) Why would a neutral person think that mapping the human genome decides the matter definitively? If it does, Caplan didn't even come close to showing that. And this clown actually gets paid to teach students?


  • and of course many believe this and almost nobody has a problem with it. But make no mistake - there's a very vocal sect which insists on a literal 6 days, and demands it be taught in public schools.
  • So would I. I'm interested in hearing just what they found which provides new insights on our evolution. Apparently, the junk DNA provides a detailed record of how the genome has changed over time, and even has all kinds of organisms living in it at the chromosome level. (cool!)

    However, this article fills a niche - the wingnuts who actually follow 'scientific creationism' respond to stuff like this. Of course, most won't be moved and may simply wait for the order from their leadership on how to respond to what is sure to be some devastating new findings for their 'theory'.

    But for some of them, it is exactly this sort of sweeping statement which they've been waiting for. It sums it up rather nicely and puts a stamp on the death of this issue (well, the genome puts a stamp on it more than this one prof does). When more data from the Genome project pours in, I optimistically believe that efforts to teach creation in public schools will fail miserably with little or no fanfare.
  • Next week I'm going to post to MSNBC an opinion piece that asserts that the universe is actually a few thousand light years in diameter

    I just can't read that without being reminded of Dr. Beverly Crusher's amazing leap of logic: "If there's nothing wrong with me, there must be something wrong with the universe."

  • I don't know anyone ... who denies
    microevolution--the alteration of an organism within its genetic bounds..... Macroevolution requires that different descendants of one organism become different species (i.e., can't breed). No documented cases of speciation have yet been found.
    Bzzt! Thank you for playing. See the Observed Instances of Speciation FAQ. []
  • Introns actually provide good supporting evidence for evolution. Suppose you have three species, A, B, and C, with the following traits:
    • A, B, and C have a sequence of introns that are similar to each other, but A's sequence is more like B's than like C's.
    • A and B live on the same island, far away from C.
    • The habitat for A is more like C's than like B's.
    • A's anatomy is more like C's than like B's.
    An evolutionary biologist can explain this constellation of facts very simply: A and B have a common ancestor-species that became geographically separated from C's ancestor-species, and "convergent evolution" led A and C to develop similar forms to solve similar problems in their respective habitats.

    How would a "scientific creationist" explain why the arrangement of introns corresponds more closely with the species' geography than with their morphology? (Before you say that A and B have an ancestor-"kind" that walked out of Noah's Ark after the Flood, read the Problems With a Global Flood FAQ [].)

  • by sethg ( 15187 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @10:41AM (#411360) Homepage
    We have long known that we would share much in common with other creatures. I don't think any scientific creationist has ever denied this. Why should God use more complex tools to create life when so much of it is reusable? Perhaps as a software developer, I see the inherent need for reuse of code whenever possible that others might not. All this shows is that evolution would have had to do less work to get to the point that complex life has gotten to. It is in no way the smoking gun that proves the theory.
    One way to prove the theory of evolution (or at least, demonstrate that it has a much higher probability of truth than any competing scientific theory out there) is to show examples of bad designs that can only be explained by evolutionary constraints:
    In parthenogenetic lizards of the genus Cnenidophorus, only females exist. Fertility in these lizards is increased when another lizard engages in pseudomale behavior and attempts to copulate with the first lizard. These lizards evolved from a sexual species so this behaviour makes some sense. The hormones for reproduction were likely originally stimulated by sexual behaviour. Now, although they are parthenogenetic, simulated sexual behaviour increases fertility. Fake sex in a parthenogenetic species doesn't sound like good design to me.

    In African locust, the nerve cells that connect to the wings originate in the abdomen, even though the wings are in the thorax. This strange "wiring" is the result of the abdomen nerves being co-opted for use in flight. A good designer would not have flight nerves travel down the ventral nerve cord past their target, then backtrack through the organism to where they are needed. Using more materials than necessary is not good design.

    In human males, the urethra passes right through the prostate gland, a gland very prone to infection and subsequent enlargement. This blocks the urethra and is a very common medical problem in males. Putting a collapsible tube through an organ that is very likely to expand and block flow in this tube is not good design. Any moron with half a brain (or less) could design male "plumbing" better.

    Perhaps one of the most famous examples of how evolution does not produced designed, but "jury-rigged" traits is the panda's thumb. If you count the digits on a panda's paw you will count six. Five curl around and the "thumb" is an opposable digit. The five fingers are made of the same bones our (humans and most other vertebrates) fingers are made of. The thumb is constructed by enlarging a few bones that form the wrist in other species. The muscles that operate it are "rerouted" muscles present in the hand of vertabrates (see S.J. Gould book "The Panda's Thumb" for an engaging discussion of this case). Again, this is not good design.

    For more in this vein, see Evidence for Jury-Rigged Design in Nature [].

    Of course, you could argue that an Intelligent Designer created all these species in an apparently jury-rigged fashion for a different purpose, but what is that purpose?

  • The answer to this question is one that atheists typically don't like: God was not created. The name that he gave himself in the Old Testament means "I am." He always has existed and always will exist; the mere fact that a finite mind cannot comprehend infinite time makes no difference.

    You can just as easily apply this answer to the previous question, namely that the universe or a metauniverse which in some sense contains our universe has always existed. No God required.

  • by alienmole ( 15522 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @08:22AM (#411368)
    But from the big-bang onwards we don't require from a god to explain the Universe.

    This brief summary [] describes Hawking & Hartle's proposal for a no-boundary universe, in which the issue of what happened before the big bang is taken care of with some neat mathematics. The bottom line is that the progression of time from the big bang as a "beginning" is just something we perceive from within the universe - looked at from an appropriate conceptual/mathematical perspective, there's no problem.

    In this model, what happened before the big bang is a little analogous to the problem of "where does all the water go that falls off the edge of the horizon?" was when we believed the earth was flat. The imagined problem disappeared once we comprehended the larger structure.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:41AM (#411387)
    > But not only could it be God's creative signature but also an "easter egg" left in our programming to baffle scientists for millenia.

    And the easter egg is a pop-up that says

  • by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:30AM (#411390) Homepage
    Talking about science disproving a religious belief, or vice versa, it 100% grade-AAA bovine excrement. They aren't really in competition: science relies on the repeatable experiment as its' basis, and religion relies on articles of faith as its' basis. It's not that they're incompatible, it's that they're asking totally different questions.

    Science asks: How ???
    Religion asks: Why ???

    And now, I'll sit back, and await the flames from both the pure-science fanatics and the pure-religion fanatics. . .

  • by ChadN ( 21033 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:59AM (#411392)
    Everything is not based on faith... Take my word for it.
  • by Numeric ( 22250 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:41AM (#411405) Homepage Journal
    To play Devil's Advocate:

    I took a Darwin class in college and debated the issue Darwin VS God, where I interviewed a Catholic priest as a primary source, as well, as read through some Church documents. From what I gathered and remember, the Church states, God began the process of creating humans (The presence of a soul in humans separates man/woman from animals). In other words, he didn't say "Hocus Pocus, I am going to pull Adam and Eve from my magical hat." The "process of creation" could be something quite similar to Darwin's evolution theory. The Biblical tale of Adam and Eve should be interpreted as "folklore". So this story doesn't fully address nor fulfill "Creation vs. Evolution" debate in the present day. God and Darwin can be both correct.
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:31AM (#411422) Homepage Journal
    I mean, God could have been one half-assed programmer.

    Bush's assertion: there ought to be limits to freedom
  • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:29AM (#411426)
    All the DNA evidence in the world can't disprove "scientific creationism." In fact, nothing can disprove scientific creationism. It's unfalsifiable, and therefore there's nothing "scientific" about it. A creationist could simply say that God chose to create us with DNA containing similar components from other living things. And who are we to question His choice? Maybe these virtually identical strands of DNA are God's creative signature -- his way of demonstrating that all life is connected to its Creator. I don't believe it, but hey, you can't disprove it.

  • by VSc ( 30374 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:13AM (#411429) Homepage

    Account for my English it's my second language. Don't pick on words.

    Some background:

    First, I think we all agree that solid science relies on facts (or, emperical data) and comes up with a plausible hypothesis to try to explain their relationships (like, cause and effect, interdependence etc) and once the hypothesis is shown to predict relyably the outcome of a certain process, the law is stated with a theory to support it (that is, a 'law' simply states how things shoud work - 'unsupported body falls until it meets the ground' and a 'theory' explains the mechanism). So, we have the distinction between 'facts', 'hypothesis', 'law' and 'theory' layed out here.

    Clear minded science, obviously, should look at evidence first and form a theory basing on that.

    'Facts', in turn, is something which can be observed and repeated.

    So, on to the topic: here's how the evolution theory roughly goes:

    • Everything started with a Big Bang (infinitely dense 'cosmic egg' less then a protom in size exploded into out universe)
    • Basic chemical elements were formed
    • With the course of time matter formed itself into galaxies, stars and planets
    • On earth, the chemical elements of primordial soup, under the influence of radiation and electrical discharges, formed more complex ones, which in turn started to self-replicate
    • ...and evolved into first living cell
    • ...which in turn evolved into more complex organisms
    • and on to the humans, in a process called 'macroevolution' (as opposed to 'microevolution', which goes on presently within the boundaries of spieces)

    Correct me if I'm wrong on this outline (well that was a rough one anyway).

    An interesting observation: there is no factual prove of any of these steps having taken place . (the obligatory disclaimer: read before you flame).

    • Big Bang: cannot be repeated or observed. Hence, it's not domain of science in the first place (yes you can speculate and theorize, but science deals with facts). Besides, you know what this 'cosmic egg' is? An ultimate black hole. Black holes are not known to explode. Instead they collapse in themselves because of own gravitational pull.
    • Spontaneous formation (not proven for same reasons - impossibility to observe): oft-quoted second law of thermodynamics: chaos increases. Big Bang is a gross violation of it, as is formation of cosmic bodies and self-organization of matter.
    • Imagine an explosion. Stuff goes in all directions, approx. the same speed. Because in case of Big Bang, there's nothing to hit, the matter would fly in all directions forever, without hitting anything and without stopping, without forming anything. To particles cannot collide if they have the same speed.
    • Generation of more complex chemical compounds. Not proven. Generation of amino-acids from the elements in primordial soup is chemically impossible. First: water is deadly for their stability (if those *were* ever formed, they would instanteniously dissolve). Second: amino-acids are composed entirely of 'right-hand' compounds (chirality: elements having same chemical characteristics but being mirror image of each other). So, if needed compounds were indeed formed by chance, the result would be 50-50, which would cancel the whole reaction altogether.
    • Abiogenesis - creation of life from non-life. Not proven.
    • Macroevolution (development of more complex organisms from simpler ones): sorry, not proven. First, there are no 'intermediate' forms found. Every single one is complete and functional. Darwinism states that evolution is a gradual process, taking millions of years. Hence, almost 100% of fossils should be intermediate forms, with clear links. The links are missing.
    • In case with man, the fossils which are credited as being intermediate forms are few and far between. Besides the fact that they are reconstructed from just a few bones, they all are recognized to be whether an ape or a human.
    • Use of microevolution as explanation for macroevolution is a stretch. Microevolution goes on within spieces, on existing genetical material, while macroevolution supposedly creates new spieces. There's no fossil or evidential proof for that.

    Well here were few suspicions about the theory of evolution which so many hold as fact today. I tried to show that every step is taken on faith and is not proven scientifically (e.g. with facts) but instead explained away with more theories or ignored.

    The suggestion is to rather have no theory at all than a lousy one, which is based solely on naturalistic world view of most of scientific community and s.c. 'public'. The fact that 'we are here after all' does not prove evolution yet.

    I invite discussion.


  • by Janthkin ( 32289 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:33AM (#411443)
    The story, I'm afraid, was completely useless. "This proves evolution!" they say. "These discoveries are the end of the argument!" they trumpet. But the story doesn't really explain HOW this result marks the end of creationism. Anyone seen a good scientific paper on this yet, or must we wait until they get published? Before alienating millions of fundamentalist Christians, it'd be nice to have the facts....
  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @08:05AM (#411446)
    Oh, but in many ways it is a religious belief.

    The very fact that we share proteins and cellular structures in common with bacteria dictates that we must share genes in common with them. We've long known, for example, that mouse biochemistry is very similar to our own. Logically, we must share a great majority of genes with them. That the tools used to make similar structures are similar in no way denies divine creation of these things.

    We have long known that we would share much in common with other creatures. I don't think any scientific creationist has ever denied this. Why should God use more complex tools to create life when so much of it is reusable? Perhaps as a software developer, I see the inherent need for reuse of code whenever possible that others might not. All this shows is that evolution would have had to do less work to get to the point that complex life has gotten to. It is in no way the smoking gun that proves the theory.

    Let us remember what so many in the scientific establishment attempt to deny: evolution is nothing but a theory. It is a good one, and it is the only one that makes sense if you posit the lack of existance of a creating force. However the fanatical willingness to overlook flaws in the model is just as much a matter of religious (atheist) dogma as some of the twisted logic of some of its opponents.

    The problem comes when one puts their faith in the belief that there is no God. Rather than accept the possibility that they are wrong and respect the beliefs of others, dedicated evolutionists will attempt to push their doctrine as fact, much as this author has done.

    In truth, these people will hold their doctrine of evolution to less standards of proof than they would hold a religious man's beliefs. Though as religious man is treated a fool for believing in a being that he has never observed, evolution, which has never been observed, is not treated as rigorously. In fact, when confronted with gaps in the fossil records, evolutionists countered with the puncuated equilibrium theory. This theory holds that the reason for the gaps is that evolution suddenly happens across all species for a short period of time and then stops for millions of years. Brilliant! Now, if we cannot observe evolution it is not disproven because it may never happen in our lifetimes, or, indeed, in the lifetime of all of human civilization.

    This gleeful "slam dunk" article that revels in taunting an evolutionist philosophical rivals is one of the worst examples of athiest zealotry that I've seen. In his rush to say, "I told you so," the author misses the simple fact that a divine creator could've used common tools in the creation of life just as easily as random luck. This is no proof, and this antagonistic little chestbeating is not worthy to be called news. Until we can see evolution definitively happen in a higher life form, we cannot accept the theory of evolution as proven no matter what other incidental evidence encourages support of the theory.

    (Incidentally, I'm a theistic evolutionist. I believe very strongly that evolution is true, but that it was guided by a divine plan. However, as someone who does not assume that there is no God, I have no turned a blind eye to flaws in evolutionist doctine. I believe that they will be plugged one day, but I am not willing to outright dismiss the idea that evolution is the only possibility.)
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:59AM (#411536) Journal
    A fellow I once worked with wondered:

    There is a LOT of "non-coding" chunks of DNA (called "introns") mixed in between and within the genes, that get edited out between the copy into RNA and the actual production of the protein.

    Could those be the comments?

    And if so, do they qualify as "holy writ"?

    (And I wonder: Is the mechanism that edits them out the preprocessor? Can it expand macros?)
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:09AM (#411537) Journal
    An infallible omnicient God (as generally postulated by the monotheists) should be able to figure out in advance an ideal design and just impelemnt it. So the only way to reconcile the observed tight fit to evolution with the hypothesis of such a God as creator is "he wanted it that way".

    But what if the creator was something more fallible. Say a hacker. Or an engineering team. (Angels?) Or a series of engineering teams over a long period, such as you find in an industry. (Think "automobiles".)

    Such projects are very cut-and-try, make mistakes, re-use previous workable designs with minor changes. It isn't for nothing that people refer to "the evolution" of aircraft, or trains, or warships. How WOULD you distinguish them - especially if they take place in an "intellectual property" enviornment that would limit transfer of designs from one line to another.

    Of course you won't find the "Scientific Creationists" postulating a fallible God or long-term teams of fallible angels. But it makes for interesting speculation. B-)
  • by Manic Miner ( 81246 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:37AM (#411585) Homepage

    Ok, I'm a Christian and a scientist and I would like to point that I do think evolution could have happened.

    However, I would like to point something out which I think people usually fail to take into account. If we take as red for a moment that there is an almighty, all powerful God who created the universe. And that he created us in his own image (thats what the bible says). Well, I have a sense of humor so I think that God probably does to.

    Given all of this, what is to stop God having created us the way he did, and then leaving a couple of "jokes" for us to fall for? I could just imagine him laughing... ha, you guys have got it sooooo wrong!

    But as I said I actually think that evolution is correct, but is it really "proved" (can you actually prove something which you can't observe and recreate? and even then is it proved?) does knowing that we evolved actually help? Where did the whole universe come from? - the big bang? Well what created the big bang? Don't forget the ask the next question... I found that it led me to God. I find believeing that we are only here because of random chance impossible to believe, just look at the work around us - it's incredible, I can't believe it wasn't designed by God.

  • by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:45AM (#411653) Homepage Journal
    Mod the parent up!

    But the LORD GOD looked upon his credit report and was wroth. HE looked down upon the sleeping earth and saw that man was corrupted by the might of his bandwith, and pron flowed freely among the systems. And the LORD GOD called upon his credit card company and cancelled the card number and woe unto he who used it after said date. Meanwhile, not less than a swallows flight away, Saint Atalark snuck a hand greande from the arsenal of the great black beast of AARGH. Then saint Atalark raised up the hand grenade on high and said "O LORD bless this thy hand grenade, that it may blow thine enemies into tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the lord did grinand blessed the hand grenade. And the people feasted upon the lambs, and the sloths, and the orangutangs, and the breakfast cereals, and the fruit bats....

  • by Wizard of OS ( 111213 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:51AM (#411678)
    Quoting from the 'Geeks4christ []' site:
    Ted Bardusch writes "Since the news that the human genome only contains 30000 genes or so (speculation had been like 142000), the model of one gene, one protein seems to be broken. As the NY times put it in the op-ed pice by Gould tml [] the model is now going to have to be far more complex. And the more complex it gets, the harder it is to see how a "simple" change can produce a series of mutations that leads to macro-evolution working. Like the irreducible complexity argument that Behe uses, this provides further fuel to the need to revisit the validity of Darwin. After all, Darwin himself stated that his theory would be invalid if there were complexity found at the cellular level. This shows there is huge complexity at an even deeper level. "

    This says exactly the opposite.

  • by sl3xd ( 111641 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:00AM (#411681) Journal
    Big Bang: cannot be repeated or observed:

    Actually, it is one of the things that many astronomers are in the process of observing and gathering facts on; During the big bang 'space' expanded at a speed far greater than the speed of light; as a result, we can still observe what happened during that time as there is still EM radiation arriving at Earth from the 'big bang'

    Just because there is insufficient facts at this point in time doesn't mean too much. And replication is a nice facet of the scientific process; although it is not always possible, or necessary.

    Black holes are not known to explode:

    In truth, hardly anything is known about these enigmatic lumps of matter; black holes have been shown to release mass, and that they eventually burn out. This certainly doesn't account for the 'big bang', however.

    The 'egg' that is the source of the big bang: Black holes are not completely inside our understanding of superdense matter. This cosmic 'egg' is beyond our understanding of superdense matter. We simply don't know if there are any physical laws that are broken or not in the 'big bang'.

    Moreover, with the energies required to observe such phenomenon, even on the micro level, requires accelerating high-density particles to speeds beyond the speed of light. The aborted US supercollider project was the limit of current theory; two protons, each moving very near light speed, crash head-on in an attempt to create a high enough energy reaction to observe the behavior of superdense particles. None of these come near what a black hole is, let alone our cosmic egg.

    Oft-quoted second law of thermodynamics: chaos increases

    Unfortunately, the 2nd law of thermodynamics depends on one assumption that we also don't know anything about: The 2nd law depends on an assumption that we live in an 'open' universe that expands without limit. A 'closed' universe that will collapse on itself does not follow the 2nd law on a univsersal scale.

    And, another fun point about the 2nd law: I've heard many a physicist state that if the 2nd law is true, God cannot exist.

    Because in case of Big Bang, there's nothing to hit, the matter would fly in all directions forever:

    Unfortunately, this argument falls apart because it *has* been shown that until something like a million years after the big-bang (cosmic background astronomy has shown this) the 'laws' of physics as we know them did not exist, and nothing behaved as we know things to behave now.

    Also, there *was no matter* until a very long period of time after the big bang; something like 700,000 years. There was, however, gravity. And massive amounts of gravity -- enough to pull and loop the primordeal soup back upon itself to form matter -- in lumps.

    As for the chemical analysis: My chemistry is a bit rusty, as it's been a few years since I did any research in it. However, I DID do research in organic chemistry. It's not entirely impossible for the correct components to form spontaneously. And water does indeed dissolve ammino acids - as it dissolves the components of all other acids.

    (And, a question here: isn't referring to the compound as an 'ammino acid' a misnomer, since to truly be an 'acid' it *must* be dissolved in water?) Yeah, I know; that's just play-on-words; but that's why I call it a 'question' I said my chemistry was a bit rusty already.

    * Abiogenesis - creation of life from non-life. Not proven

    Not disproven either.

    * 100% of fossils should be intermediate forms, with clear links. The links are missing.

    Well, if we could recover 100% of any given fossil, this would hold meaning; you even stated yourself that there is insufficient data to show whether these things are ancestors or not; for all we know these incomplete fossils are the links.

    To be short: Lack of evidence does not imply proof of non-existence; merely proof of a lack of knowledge.

    * Besides the fact that they are reconstructed from just a few bones, they all are recognized to be whether an ape or a human.

    That, of course, depends on how you define an 'ape' or a 'human.' There are fossils that are not what we consider 'human' by any right; neanderthal, cro-magnon, 'java' man... the bones are clearly *not* homo-sapien, or human. They are also clearly *not* an ape. Moreover, there can be no clear links, as evolution is simply a series of many small, microevolutionary changes. Give it a couple hundred-thousand years and the differences can be clear. Watch it the whole time and it's like watching grass grow - you don't notice the differences appearing.

    * Use of microevolution as explanation for macroevolution is a stretch.

    Well, there's plenty of time to stretch it in. In fact, the whole theory of evolution is not about single, huge, 'macro' evolutions... but a series of small microevolutions.

    The main point here is: At what point do we consider a series of microevolutions on a species to create enough differences to 'create' entirely new species? A hundred? A thousand? A million? There is no 'line in the sand' to define this.

    For saying there's no proof: Lack of proof does not imply a proof of lack. And, also - again, how is a macroevolution any different than thousands of microevolutions compounded over time? There is no difference, because macroevolution implies thousands (or millions) of microevolutionary changes over time.

    You did do a good job of showing that there are suspicions about the Theory of Evolution; unfortunately, many are assumptions that are made from bad or insufficient knowledge. I note espescially the sections reguarding the big bang, and physical laws; many of these assumptions are based off of newtonian rules, and an infinite universe, of which newtonian rules do not hold true for the energies involved in the big bang. We have no clue if we live in an 'open' or infinite universe, or a 'closed' or finite universe.

    I would like to again re-iterate: The lack of fact, evidence, or proof is *not*, nor does it connotate, prove, or show, a lack of existence.

    Finally: Remember that the scientific community is trying to make sense of and understand the universe. These theories are based off of what knowledge we have. Contrary to what many would like to believe, they are not made lightly. Evolution was a bold theory when Darwin presented it. There has been a growing amount of evidence and facts that prove evolution is a correct theory. However, there has been no evidence to show that it is false; there has only been insufficient evidence to irrefutably convince the most zealous that evolution is fact.

    And, from a religious standpoint, as I am a very religious man, it is sheer arrogance and pride for *US* to dictate how God should create us, and the world around us.

    Various religious records state that God created the world - NOT how. He said 'let there be light', however details on how light was formed are not disclosed. God created man 'from the dust of the Earth'. Again - no details on how he created us, over what timeframe, and what intermediate steps (if any) were made.

    And about the Earth being made in 6 days - well, we have an all-powerful God; why can't He create a 'time bubble' of sorts so that millions of years to us seems like a day to Him?

    We create our cars, computers, pottery... all from 'the dust of the earth' there are intermediate steps we take to get from 'dust' to 'computer'. There is no reason to assume that God did not create man the same way; with evolution as a series of intermediate steps. There is no reason to assume that dirt rose out of the ground into man.

    To say that you cannot have God and Science shows that you do not understand enough of at least one, or that you are making assumptions about how God does things that are undocumented, and may not be true.

    God created Man, the Heavens and the Earth. The Bible, Koran, and many other religions teach that. (I cannot at this moment remember the name of the Jewish equivalent of the Old Testament; sorry.)

    None give specific details as to how He did it. It's arrogant of us to dictate to Him or to ourselves how God does His work.
  • by MikeTheYak ( 123496 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:37AM (#411687)
    You cannot 'disprove' Creationism. To do so, you would have to prove that God (or whoever) was unable to create a genome that looks like it had evolved from bacteria. Mapping the genome and seeing consistent patterns is no more compelling, in my opinion, than noting the similarities in human and mouse physiologies. It may be astronomically improbable that the human genome got to its current state in any way other than evolution (good luck proving that), but probabilities don't count when you're talking about religion.

    I believe in evolution. I agree that the results presented here are independently corroborating evidence of evolution. However, the article does not present a single piece of evidence that invalidates the theory of Creationism. The author hypocritically takes the same tone as one of the bible-thumping zealots he derides.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:14AM (#411707) Homepage

    Of course we don't actually need a complete genome to tell that evolution has happened. People have been doing cross-species genetic comparisons for years as a way of looking at evolution. There are some genes that have been sequenced in hundreds or even thousands of different organisms, and they show exactly the same kinds of differences that you'd expect based on neo-Darwinism. Similarities are greatest between organisms that were generally believed to be similar already- human myoglobin is identical to that from chimpanzees but is slightly different from that of mice, for instance. Genes that have critical roles in sustaining life undergo evolution more slowly than ones that are less important, so basic structural proteins like actin are very highly conserved and less critical ones like hemoglobin are less conserved. Within a given gene family, changes that have no effect on function, like those that don't actually change which amino acid is coded for, are more common than ones that do change function. Conservative changes, which result in changing an amino acid to a similar one, are more common than radical one that change an amino acid into a totally different one. Changes in unimportant regions are more common than ones in critical regions. The behavior is so well understood that it's been used as the basis for "molecular clocks" that can tell how long ago species diverged by differences in critical genes.

    This is so obvious to anyone who's looking at information like this that it's pretty much impossible to deny. It's staring you right in the face every time you look at the data. The genome is nice because it shows things working at an organism level, but crushingly clear molecular evidence of evolution has been available for quite some time.

  • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:13AM (#411715)
    Actually, (IIRC) the Pope came out a few years ago and basically endorsed the Big Bang theroy of the creation of the universe. He said basically that it's OK to speculate what happened AFTER the instant of creation, but not before.

    As I understand it, the current official Catholic party line is that the Big Bang corresponds to the moment when God said "let there be light". Of course, the modern Catholic church (mostly) subscribes to an allegorical, rather than a literal word-for-word interpretation of the Gospel. I could be wrong; I havn't been a practicing Catholic for the last 18 years.

    Also, the reason Evoloution is a "theory" and not a "law" is that it cannot be expressed in precise mathematical terms (like, for example, Ohm's Law or the first law of thermodynamics). Evoloutionary theory describes a general process rather than a specific mechanism. We can describe the mechanisms of evoloution in general terms, but it can't (currently) be expressed in a mathmatically provable manner.

  • by hardburn ( 141468 ) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @08:28AM (#411731)

    DNA looks a lot like your standard computer program, including what is noted in the parent post. You'll also note that it has a compression algarithm (the fact that it's a double-helix is a form of compression that puts human-built lossy compression to shame, even though DNA is lossless!). It runs on a base 4 number system.

    Besides the physical, lossless compression noted above, it also has a sort of internal lossy compression, which essentualy builds the fractal-like attributes of an animal it describes. To see how, consider an idea based in the early days of computing and chaos theory:

    To play what is known as the Chaos Game, you will need graph paper, a pencil, and a coin. However, results are best with a computer that has a random number generator. Pick a point at random on the graph. It doesn't matter where. Put a point there. Now think up two rules, a heads rule, and a tail rule. A rule can be something like "move up 4, left 5" or "move 20% closer to the center". When you flip heads on the coin, use the heads rule, and on tails, use the tails rule. Put a point where it tells you to move to. Then flip again, and again, and again, until you're sick of flipping.

    You will find that you will not get a random pattern of dots, but a very structured pattern; a fractal. The more iterations, the sharper the image gets.

    The scientists first trying this then tried to do the reverse: Given an image, how can you create rules that will make that image? Without getting into the details on how this is done, it turns out that the more fractal-like the image is, the simpilar the rules will be.

    I beileve that our DNA is basicly a chaos game thats been running for millions of years. Our bodies (and those of any other animal or plant) reak of fractals. Our brain is a fractal. Our fingerprints are fractals. Our blood stream and nervous system are fractals (note how similar they look to the branches of a tree).

    Thus, DNA has this beautiful lossy compression system for describing the bodies it creates. Describing each and every piece of something would make it bloated and prone to error. Instead, it is taken care of with a maximum ammount of elegance.


  • by HvidNat ( 148511 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:20AM (#411760)
    It is true that in "Origin of the Species" Darwin did not assert that man was descended from apes. However, in his later book, "the Descent of Man" he does speculate that man and great apes had a common ancestor.

    For what it's worth. Darwin's ideas were not particularly new -- about 9000 years ealier ancient farmers already figured out that they can control phenotypes of subsequent generations of crops by careful selection of seed (the notion of artificial pollenation evaded them, however). Prior to Darwin, various monks had made "evolution-like" musings regarding man and the great apes (generally asserting deevolution towards the ape).

    What really earned Darwin the spotlight was three-fold: his book was widely circulated, the subject matter was really hot for the time, and he was a Christian minister. The combination pushed his book into the "classics" category -- I think irregardless of his very keen observations and clear accounting of them.

    For what it's worth... The process of natural selection isn't very disputable since it's a fundamental tool in various aspects of industrial and convservation biology as well as medicine. It's only recently though that we've begun to see the depth of the molecular basis for this selection and the biochemical interplay between organism and the environment. It's clear from modern genomics that evolution (at the molecular level) is not always as slow and deliberate as Darwin might have thought -- nor is fitness as simple as he first described.

    I think it's a stretch to say man and apes (or all other mammals, for that matter) are not somehow related -- but whether that's by design or blind luck (and certain physical rules) doesn't really seem to present itself with any testable hypotheses. Personally, I like to think there's a creator, that Genesis is an allegorical synopsis of the descent of man, and that bickering over whether or not man descended from a lesser life form totally misses the point of both the scientific enquiry and the theological significance of the biblical account of creation. The bible means to tell you're beholden to the forces that made the universe for your very existence -- it's not a HOWTO on creating the universe. Imagine how inaccessible the bible would be if it started from probabilistic quantum mattery-energy discussion up through diagramming complex biological systems and beyond. Even if it did, nothing of philosophical significance would come of it -- and that's what the Bible quite specifically exists to provide.

  • by krlynch ( 158571 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @09:05AM (#411779) Homepage

    I don't know what your scientific training is, but you seem to be confused about a great many things:

    • The Big Bang: The BB model makes definite, testable, falsifiable predictions about a great many things, including the existence of a nearly uniform background radiation, the ratios of various light elements in the cosmos, and a host of other things. Every measurement so far has been consistent with this model. So in a sense it HAS been observed, because we can directly measure its after effects. Furthermore, just because we can't recreate it doesn't mean it isn't correctly in the realm of science ... we can't make a solar system from scratch either, but we're pretty darn sure they exist. And what is this "cosmic egg" stuff you were talking about? It is unconnected with the big bang model.
    • Your grasp of the ideas of thermodynamics is as poor as your understanding of the big bang model. Self organization is NOT forbidden by thermodynamics; if that were so, you could not have been born. I will not address your big bang argument, because I can't do so in a non-technical language (my short coming, not one of the theory) that people will likely understand. Maybe someone else will chime in.
    • See above...your understanding of the big bang model, cosmological theory, and particle theory is woefully incorrect. Think for a moment about how ridiculous and clearly incorrect your last sentence was.
    • Again, you clearly don't understand the scientific theory you are trying to use to support your point; amino acids CAN be formed out of simpler chemicals. It has been done in the lab, and some of the simpler amino acids have been observed in the spectra of extra-solar clouds. Your chirality argument also misses the point. The chiral molecules in biological systems are built by other molecules of the same chirality, from molecules of the same chirality. We could just as easily be built of molecules of the "wrong" chirality. The selection of one chirality over the other was likely random chance; there is not scientific "expectation" that life should be 50 50.
    • Abiogenesis - not disproven either. We CAN create the essential molecules of life from simpler compounds, under conditions we think occurred on the early earth, and in the early solar system. That we don't necessarily (yet) know how the next steps might have occurred does not in any way affect our belief in the evolution that occurred AFTER those steps.
    • Macroevolution - Your argument here is also specious. There are many things of which we don't have direct, first hand knowledge. I have never seen the "intermediate" stages of fueling my car, for example: I go to the gas station, I stick the fueling spout into a hole in the side of my car, I pull on the handle, and some time later, the machine tells me my car is full. I've never seen the fluid flow into the vehicle. That doesn't mean I don't know that gasoline has passed into the tank of the car. I believe it because there are other lines of evidence that convince me that the car has been fueled: the gauge moves up to F, the car drives down the road, etc. Same with macroevolution. (Furthermore, although I hesistate to mention this since I don't have a citation, we HAVE IN FACT observed macroevolution occurring in the wild, and in the lab, in viral, cellular, and multi-cellular domains). Along the same lines, we don't need to have ALL of the intermediate evolutionary forms. I observe that digestion occurs, even though there are many "intermediate forms" that the nutrients take on their way through my body. A further analogy: we no longer have evidence of all the "intermediate forms" of automobiles that existed between the Ford Model A and the 2001 Ford Mustang, but we know that they existed ... this doesn't suggest to me that we have to assume that the seat belt "materialized" or was "divinely created" out of nothing. Furthermore, have you considered the fact that we just might find some of those "intermediate forms" you desire tomorrow? or next week? or a year from now?
    • The fact that our evolutionary ancestors are not all preserved is identcal to the reasons that not all species are preserved. It is just as specious an argument.
    • Your "micro" versus "macro" evolution arguments are just as specious as the rest of your arguments. We know that microcellular processes drive macrocellular phenomena (think of muscular contractions), and we know that structural form is encoded in DNA. And we have observed both this "micro" evolution and "macro" evolution as you refer to these phenomena. When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, and tastes like a duck, why would you insist on calling it a cow?

    I am NOT arguing that our current models of biology, chemistry, physics, cosmology, etc. are correct in every detail, nor do I expect them to remain static. However, I do believe from my own training (as a theoretical particle physicist), discussion with colleagues, reading of the peer reviewed literature, etc, that the essential fact that evolution currently occurs has been shown beyond any reasonable doubt, and I have further been convinced that it DID occur in the past, and that all species around today are descendants of earlier species. I believe this because the predictions made by our current theories and models fit the physical evidence much better than any of the alternatives. And living in a world with incomplete, and potentially flawed models is to me a much more reasonable and palatable options to throwing up our hands and saying "we don't have all the proof that we would like, so we aren't going to accept anything as more likely than anything else." We certainly wouldn't progress very far as a society if that were true.

  • by Eric Gibson ( 166760 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:30AM (#411809) Homepage
    I've always found it interesting that Christians worship the form of Christianity nurtured and spread throughout the world by the civilization that killed Christ. That being Romans... There were actually many forms of Christianity, it just so happens that the one that was accepted was the one that seems to embrace mind-numbing, brain washing dicta of the church. For example, this talk back from the MSNBC site:

    Amen. Dr. Caplan is missing a key element in his theory. Those of us who have faith have already answered the question of creationism. Scientists want to overanalyze until they get the answer they want. Life is so much more fulfilling once you accept God and live your life instead of constantly analyzing it.

    This kind of statement would have been ludricous to a Gnostic Christian, who believed in self understanding thru a never ending exploration of ones consciousness and the nature around them.

    Fortunately, the Romans were able to kill off every other form of christianity except the one that met thier standards for a religion that benefited them. Very strange no one has been able to see thru this in the last 2 thousand years...
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:03AM (#411839)
    Nice to hear from somebody capable of discussing this rationally, instead of trolling for creationist flames.

    You are absolutely right that this is really only "evidence" of man's evolution to those who were already convinced of the theory's soundness. Critics of Darwinism have already dismissed much more compelling evidence than this, so I seriously doubt that this discovery will persuade them.

    On the other hand, genetic similarities which do not correlate with traits like appearance do lend much more credibility to the theory that man shares common ancestors with other primates.

    (It does not neccessarilly follow, from this evidence alone, that it happened slowly over a prolonged time. There is growing popularity around the theory that many of evolution's most radical mutations happened in quick bursts, with long periods of little or no change in between, rather than the steady march of slow and subtle changes.)

  • by pizen ( 178182 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:33AM (#411843)
    "Darwin was right - mankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive animal ancestors" Too bad that's not Darwin's theory of evolution. If one were to actually read The Origin of Species, he or she would learn that Darwin believed that all creatures evolved together from more primitive versions of themselves, not that humans evolved from monkeys who evolved from lesser creatures. That is the common misconception about the theory of evolution.
  • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:30AM (#411887)
    Thank you for using bold face type. Your assertions are much more believable now that you've indicated that you're emphatic about them. :)
  • by borgquite ( 197429 ) <minkus&ntlworld,com> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @08:17AM (#411899) Homepage
    Roundness of the earth (Isaiah 40:22)
    Almost infinite extent of the sidereal universe (Isaiah 55:9)
    Law of conservation of mass and energy (II Peter 3:7)
    Hydrologic cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
    Vast number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22)
    Law of increasing entropy (Psalm 102:25-27)
    Paramount importance of blood in life processes (Leviticus 17:11)
    Atmospheric circulation (Ecclesiastes 1:6)
    Gravitational field (Job 26:7)
    ' Ore stabit fortis a fine placet ore stat '
    - found on a park bench
  • by White Roses ( 211207 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:19AM (#411931)
    In answer to your query, I suppose I'd better explain the histrionics America has to endure on a regular basis.

    Scientific Creationism is merely a name given to right-wing bible-thumping zealots who wish schools in our country to not educate our children. See, most reasonable people, even those who believe in some sort of creation story, feel that evolution does actually happen. In fact, there is a popular, middle-of-the-road school of thought that would claim that the whole ball of wax, as it were, came into being via the hand of God, creating blue-green algae all those millenia ago, and then He (or She or It) took a hands off approach and let things get on with things. Frankly, I find this to be the scientific equivalent of being an agnostic. I find it easy to reconcile the two accounts: one is a religious story, meant to provide a direction to moral development, and the other is a scientific investigation, which has no moral to it's story, and is not meant to be believed blindly (emphasis on blind). In practice, the two should have no effect on one another. They don't for me.

    Now back to the bible-belt zealots: unsatisfied with miseducating their own children to the nature of science, they want our schools to not teach evolution. But that's stupid. And dangerous. That way, you end up with presidents like Ronald Reagan who go on national television and say, "Well, it's just a theory," when asked about teaching evolution in the schools. So, most schools, at least those outside of Dixie (the South, to those of you in other countries that don't have to deal with this crap), say, "Sorry, no, we're teaching evolution and that's that." So, to muddy the waters (which is what zealots do, be they green or white-sheeted), the thumpers introduce this counter-intuitive bullshit called Scientific Creationism. The word scientific is used in this case to confuse and cajole the unwashed masses who can't tell the difference, kind of like calling Buzz Lightyear the ultimate in playtime fun. But really, it's just religion in a lab coat, so that the government won't notice they're violating the separation of church and state by forcing this steaming load of non-scientific lies down the throat of children, be they christian, muslim, jew or whatever. So, yes, it's just another abuse of the word scientific. A dangerous one at that. If I wanted my children (not that I have any yet, and this kind of thing is not making me want to have any) to learn about creationism, I'd send them to Sunday School to be indoctrinated.

    Anyway, even the Pope [] says that evolution is more than a hypothesis (the link here is the only one I could find where the pontiff's statement was not followed by still more irrational, counter-intuitive, rabid drivelling by the religious right).

    In short, my friend, be glad you live in Denmark.

  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:32AM (#411946)
    Some guy with a PhD found out that MSNBC would actually listen to him and write a couple paragraphs that "Darwin is vindicated" because of the "Human Genome". I know how these guys work. They have Genetic data where they then try to explain differences using evolution. Fairly reasonable thing to do. All he's doing is take the explaination for the differences and using it to say "Darwin is vindicated", which is not a reasonable thing to do.

    Instead you should just state, "Evolution is a fact". Human beings, in thier short time of recorded history have seen cows in Australia evolve to the enviroment, virii and bacteria evolve to resist drugs, new breeds of dogs and cats appear, et al. There is NO disputing the fact of evolution. Now if you want to suggest human evolved from other primates, you'll have some resistence, but once its explained that Evolution is a fact, it's not that hard to see it happening.

  • by Private Essayist ( 230922 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:35AM (#411967)
    Let's slow down a bit. This wasn't a news article, but an opinion piece. Although I agree with the author's conclusions, it's because of what I've read elsewhere, not because of what I read in this column. He didn't go into details, but asserted things with general statements. Even if he is right, that won't convince anyone. You need a more thorough treatment of the subject, using detailed scientific information, before you could even begin to convince someone.

    Just to prove my point, what if this had been an opinion piece asserting that the human genome findings supported creationism? Would all those who support evolution suddenly decide that creationism is correct? Of course not, for it would only be an opinion piece and we would say his opinion is wrong, let's see the scientific data instead.

    Next week I'm going to post to MSNBC an opinion piece that asserts that the universe is actually a few thousand light years in diameter, but looks much bigger because of the use of strategically-placed mirrors. Trust me, my opinion piece will absolutely, positively prove the point, even without the use of messy scientific facts...

  • by OlympicSponsor ( 236309 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:42AM (#411996)
    I was going to post the very same thing.

    I might also add, to be fair, that this doesn't prove evolution "indisputably" either. For one thing, nothing can be proved "indisputably". For another, evolution is a theory about history--using facts about the present alone isn't necessarily conclusive.

    All that said, I fully support evolution (and, more specifically, natural selection)--but I also doubt any True Disbelievers will be swayed by this evidence.
    -- 346238&mode=thread
  • by OlympicSponsor ( 236309 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:56AM (#411997)
    "Darwinian evolution is analog, genetics is digital. The two aren't compatible."

    And this is exactly why everyone is either white OR black with no in-between shades. Same for hair color, height, intelligence, etc. None of these things fall into gaussian curves, no, uh-huh.

    Use your brain for a minute.
    -- 346238&mode=thread
  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @06:31AM (#412021) Homepage Journal
    Our genes show that scientific creationism cannot be true.

    Don't get your hopes up that the "scientific" creationists will have the sense to close up shop - theirs is not a desire to find the truth, but to believe that they have it already. These data will not be some kind of silver bullet to cure willful ignorance.

    Ignoring the creationsists for a minute, data from the genome map will require rethinking of some of our earlier conclusions, not least of all those about the basic functioning of genes - with only 30,000, synergy and emergent properties are will become radically more important, and related branches of mathematics will probably see new interest.

    Where's Buckminster Fuller when you need him?

    - B

  • by dhovis ( 303725 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @07:20AM (#412109)

    This statement does apply to the Catholic Church, which has actually learned its lesson after their dealings with Galileo. The Catholic Church has actually essentially adopted Galileo's position (a few hundred years later) on the use of the Bible for interpreting scientific discoveries (which is to say, the bible is a book that tells you how to get to heaven, and its usefulness outside of that is limited). I give the Catholic Church a lot of credit for this stance. They have a lot of other policies that are stuck in the dark ages, but this one is certainly what it should be.

    However, this does not stop other religous sects from condemning evolution of Biblical grounds. You are never going to be able to argue with these people, as someone else pointed out in this discussion, it is always possible that people can just say "God created Man's genetic code that way" and you can't argue with that, because if God exists and God has the powers advertised, then God is certainly capable of doing that. You have to start arguing the existance of God and that is something you can neither prove or disprove.

    (And lets not even get into the whole "what does the Bible mean discussion)

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson