Boeing 747s and Other Misunderstandings about Evolution

by cofty 89 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • cofty

    Some of the least complex organisms are also the most successful. We all know that already. NOBODY is saying otherwise.

    I started this thread to make a very very simple point to counter a common cannard. It could have been a useful thread but you decided to shit on it.

    1. Very complex things do exist. (not all organisms have gone down this road and complex features are sometimes lost - this was a given that didn't need explaning in this context)

    2. Creationists are right that these very complex things could not appear by chance alone.

    3. Understanding cumulative selection is the answer.

    4. Dawkins computer programme, his ratchet and Mount Improbable are useful analogies in this LIMITED context.

    Adam I can honestly say I have never learned anything from you that I didn't know already. The problem is you don't do conversation. You assume you know what people might mean and then without asking questions you attack things they never said.

    You were a self-important pain in the arse before you got banned as King Solomon and you are even worse now.

  • Knowsnothing

    To add to this great thread, here is the Lenski experiment (with the accompaning creationist fiasco), and how it's going so far. Here is another article on how it's going so far.

    I just want to thank cofty for his patience on teaching this subject. It is difficult and unbelievable to grasp at first, but if you are really thirsty for knowledge, you will keep searching and find the answers.

    As for the typewriter or computer analogy, perhaps there is a better illustration. I don't intend to say one, because of the limitations of analogies. All you have to remember is the accumulation of mutations that are sustained, sometimes because of fitness, sometimes random, always because of natural selection. The monkeys are typing away without any purpose in mind. The typewriter and the paper don't have a purpose either. But imagine this weird scenario. For the sake of comparing it to biological systems, imagine the paper gives 'birth' to a typewriter, and that the mutation that the paper first gained is now passed along to the typewriter, so that a key originally had is replaced with the 'mutation'. This 'mutation' is but a replica of another key. As an example, imagine your very own keyboard with which you write to communicate on this forum. The next keyboard that is replicated has a mutation, and your 'r' key is now a 'w'. Your keyboard now has 2 w's, and the monkey is now more likely to hit that w that will help complete the phrase you are looking for (the outside, non-participant observer). While you are looking on the outside, even though you look for a desired outcome, the process is random, and repeats itself multiple times. The outside observer in this case is the scientist, observing the experiment and looking to see how such complexity could have come about. The monkeys type away, the keyboards press upon the papers, the papers then 'spawn' the mutated keyboards which the monkeys type away at, again and again, some accumulating the mutation you, the non-participant observer, are looking for. Some generations of paper accumulate the mutations you are looking for, others do not. In fact, some harmful mutations prevent the keyboards from typing at all, and so all the accumulation of mutations for that particular keyboard end with that keyboard.

    Tying it in with the Lenski experiment, which I highly recommend you read about, as it introduces novel complexity through beneficial mutation accumulation, and once and for all trumps the 'irreducible complexity' argument, the keyboards finally are able to produce the sentence "Methinks it is like a weasel" on a paper. Many typewriters came and went, and so did many papers, but at the end, this particular 'strain' of keyboard/paper accumulated what was once thought irreducibly complex. They key (pun intended) is that each successive generation successful of reproduction passed on this beneficial mutation, and then the other one added another beneficial mutation, culminating in the final product.

    I could go on, but see how the analogy start to break down after a certain point? Even so, just because the analogies fail to grasp the total reality, they get us a little bit closer to understanding this seemingly complex process, to the point where you can see that, indeed, the accumulation of mutations. The important thing to understand is this is real life. Lenski mapped this process out from beggining to end. The e. coli bacteria had no way of metabolizing citrate before these mutations accumulated in its DNA. Then, all the right 'ingredients' came to together in one generation and, wham! The bacteria population that was now able to feed on citrate, on top of on meager doses of glucose, blew up to enormous proportions, compared to other strains only feeding on glucose. This bacteria had a selective advantage in now have two sources of energy with which it could continue to survive on and reproduce. These genes were passed on, and here is an experiment showing evolution before our very eyes, much to the chagrin of stubborn creationists.

    Mutations don't immediately produce Boeing 747's, but they eventually produce all the novel complexity and diversity we see in the natural world.

  • tijkmo

    monkey's will never evovle to type Shakespere

    ah the irony

  • cofty

    Thanks Knowsnothing.

    Lenski's experiment is astonishing. I was reading just last week how it is still producing results. Here is something I wrote about hs work a while ago in my GSOE summary...

    Evolution works by the non-random selection of random mutations of genes. The work that has been done by Dr Lenski and his team is surely one of the clearest demonstrations of the power of this process. E.Coli is one of the commonest bacterium on earth, there is around 100 billion billion of them in the world at any given time and around 1 billion of them in your gut right now. Most of the time they cause no problem, until a new strain wreaks havoc on its hosts digestive system. If we assume the the probability of a particular gene mutating to be 1 in a billion the size of the population is so high that just about every gene in the E.coli genome will hav emutated somewhere in the world every day.These bacteria reproduce asexually through simple cell division so Lensky began by cloning a population of genetically identical individuals. Next he divided them equally into 12 identical flasks each of which contained the same nutrient broth to produce 12 tribes of E.Coli, which have remained totally separate for 21 years and counting.

    Every day 12 new flasks are prepared with the very same broth consisting of a mixture that contains glucose that they feed on, and citrate, which they are not able to eat, but more on that in a minute. Exactly 1% of the population of each flask is removed daily and put into the new flasks. That means that there are now 12 lines of 7000 flasks each stretching way back the beginning if the experiment. The 12 tribes were sampled at intervals to see how they were changing and, at strategic points, samples were frozen to provide living “fossils” that could be resuscitated for comparison with later generations.

    E.Coli don’t waste any time in reproducing, averaging between 6 and 7 generations per day. That means that Lenski has bred 45,000 generations of bacteria. If we were to scale that up to human generations it would take us back a relatively modest (in evolutionary terms) 1 million years.

    Every day the same pattern was observed, the population of the lucky 1% would initially soar, then as the food began to run out, it would level off as starvation set in: Boom and bust, day after day for 45,000 generations. The question to be answered was whether or not the bacteria would evolve, and if so would they change in similar or different ways?

    The expectation was that if a bacterium underwent a mutation that allowed it to make better use of the limited food supply then it would be favoured by natural selection and in time the mutant would take over the tribe. Well this is exactly what happened in all 12 tribes, every one got better than their ancestors at exploiting the available glucose. What was really amazing was that they all got better in different ways; they each discovered their own novel mutations to improve their fitness.

    In each case populations began to grow faster and the average body size of the bacteria grew. Most of this growth happened over the first 2000 generations after which it began to plateau. The graphs of their growth all fit a hyperbolic curve beautifully, but each curve follows a slightly different path as different mutations occur at different times in each tribe.

    The graphs also show an exception to this rule of diversity however. Two tribes appeared to follow identical rates of growth over 20,000 generations. Lenski and a team of scientists investigated by studying the DNA of the populations concerned. The astonishing result they discovered was that the same 59 genes had undergone the same changes in both tribes. This is truly staggering!

    The genome of the E.Coli bacterium contains 4,403 genes made up from 4,639,221 base pairs. So what are the chances of the same mutation happening independently in 2 populations? Fairly low but not unreasonable? So what if we find 2, 3 or 4 mutations the same? Now it’s getting remarkable. But 59 changes in the same genes in both populations? That is the kind of incredible odds that creationists get so excited about. How many analogies are there – too many to count! Monkeys writing Shakespeare, jumbo jets in scrapyards, the list is endless. But here is an event or series of events with odds against that are stupefyingly large, odds that would beggar belief if it were not for the fact that it actually happened in the lab and the evidence is there for any competent scientist to examine.

    This is the whole point about the power of natural selection, it achieves things that appear impossible through the step by step accumulation of favourable changes. Both tribes had independently discovered the same 59 mutations out of all the millions of possible changes.

    At generation 33,000 something else happened that was utterly remarkable, something that strikes at the very heart of the “intelligent design” movement. As the population of bacteria in a flask grows the liquid becomes increasingly cloudy. Each day the “cloudiness” or optical density (OD) is carefully measured and recorded. The OD of one particular tribe, named Ara-3, had been coasting along at a level of 0.04 similar to the other 11, when it suddenly it went into vertical take-off growing six fold to an OD level of 0.25 After a few days the population level stabilized and all future generations of this tribe, and this tribe alone, achieved the same results.

    So what was going on? Remember I mentioned earlier that the broth contained citrate? Well it turned out that Ara-3 had worked out how to metabolise citrate and therefore had loads more food to eat than the other 11 tribes. So when the other tribes were beginning to starve after the glucose ran out this tribe was still enjoying a bonanza.

    Lenski worked out that this change was not likely to be the result of a single mutation, as it should have been discovered by other tribes as well. Neither was it a series of mutations of the sort where each change builds on the previous. That would not be rare enough to account for the dramatic uniqueness of Ara-3. What was needed was a combination of mutations of the kind that creationists call “irreducible complexity” where 2 or more mutations are required before there is any improvement whatsoever.

    One of Lenski’s students, Zachary Blount, ran a gruelling set of experiments involving 40 trillion E.Coli cells from across the generations to discover what had actually happened. The magic moment turned out to be around generation 20,000. Thawed out clones dating from before that point never discovered how to use citrate, they were just like the other 11 tribes. Those that dated from after that generation showed increased probability of subsequently evolving citrate capability. A mutation had occurred that conferred no advantage the bacterium but it primed it to take advantage of a later mutation. Not only does this show new information entering genomes - something the likes of John Mackay endlessly asserts is impossible - not only does it demonstrate the power of natural selection to put together combinations of genes that, by the naïve calculations so beloved of creationists, should be tantamount to impossible; it also undermines their central dogma of “irreducible complexity”.

    Lenski's research shows, in microcosm and in the lab, massively speeded up so that it happened before our very eyes, many of the essential components of evolution by natural selection: random mutation followed by non-random natural selection; adaptation to the same environment by separate routes independently; the way successive mutations build on their predecessors to produce evolutionary change; the way some genes rely, for their effects, on the presence of other genes. Yet it all happened in a tiny fraction of the time evolution normally takes.

    In 2006 Lenski was rewarded for his outstanding work with his election to the United Sates National Academy of Sciences.

  • Comatose

    These types of threads are cathartic for me. It's more marvelous and amazing to me than god making a man from dust. To think of the amazing ability of life to grow and change. It's awe inspiring. Such a story life has had.

  • KateWild

    I think a common error that many theogenists make is misapplying the odds. Take abiogenesis as an example. The odds against that singular critical event happening that changed a complex of molecules from non-living to living, must have been very high. Theogenists would say......IslandMan

    I still think Dawkin's is obscuring the fact that probabilities are relevant. I am not a theogenist, I am a Chemical Analyst. I don't missapply odds or probabilities.

    If you flip a coin 5 times and get tails each time, what is the proabability you will get heads on the 6th time? Do you think it is still 50/50? Or do you think the odds have increased?

    It's still 50/50.

    I as far as abiogensis is concerned, non-living streo-isomers cannot form into living structure's. There is no scientific experiments that have achieved this yet.

    I have however read a paper in which a homochiral solution was formed using glass beads as a catalyst. This does not in anyway reinforce the formation of non-living molecules to living molecules.

    Island Man, please ask me to explain terms if I have not put it clearly. I am not good at explaining my knowledge. I am a chemical analyst not a writer after all, I leave that to the R&D folks.

    Sam xx

  • KateWild

    Beer and museums, loving that idea!-cofty

    I bet you are only gesting Bill, I would really love that too. When are you and Mrs Blyth free so we can meetup? Where are you anyway, anywhere near Liverpool? I think I may have seen you post, Northumberland perhaps?

    Sam xx

  • KateWild

    unless one maintains an intelligent being is using natural selection to accomplish his purpose-Earnest

    Good point, Einstein and Dawkin's do not agree on this point. Einstein was a Scientist and by no means did he call himself a creationist. He did in fact agree with you Earnest as do I.

    Albert Einstein, stated that the orderly universe was complex and this order had to be divine. He used the illustration of a young child going into a huge library, with books of all languages. There is order as to how they are all placed. The child knows he cannot underatand everything in all the books but he can how ever grasp the fact that there was someone responsible for placing all the books in order.

    Thank you for your contribution to this post.

    Love Sam xx

  • KateWild


    I watched Darwin's video. Before watching it I stated the limitations of this silly experiment in post number 980 of this thread. I stated " Although the common ancestor could evolve a being far more advanced than we are today, we just cannot control or predict how we will evolve"

    It is very humble of you, cofty, to take my point seriously and highlight the fact that Darwin himself at 5.30 of the video agrees with me of the limits.

    Darwin's idea of random mutation then is really Divine Order as Einstein points to.

    Good thread Bill, Love Sam xx

  • rawe

    Hi Sam,

    "Albert Einstein, stated that the orderly universe was complex and this order had to be divine."

    Pinning down Einstein's views on the subject of God can be challenge. As a young child he apparently spent a year or two practicing Orthodox Judiasm. In his later life, when directly questioned on the subject he replied, "I believe in Spinoza's God[1], who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind..."

    In the post-9/11 world of New Atheism, I do think there is a difference in how non-believers engage and identify themselves. In 1950s America being outspoken and bullish on Atheism would be more rare, even in academic circles. I'm not suggesting Einstein would be less than candid on the subject, but just that in general people today speak of their non-belief differently than they did 60 years ago.

    In any regards, Einstein was a physicist not an evolutionary biologist. It is evolutionary biologists such as Richard Dawkins that are in effect told, their body of scientific knowledge should be excluded from the class room because it is in direct conflict with the creation story in Genesis. I think that makes a difference too. For Einstein his concern was the conclusions of quantum physics, which seemed to suggest chaos and lack of order. He worked right to the very end of his life on unified field theory, that he was sure could unite the micro and macro worlds without the need to invoke uncertainity of QP.



    [1] As per the Wikipedia on Baruch Spinoza (1632 - 1677): "Spinoza denies the immortality of the soul; strongly rejects the notion of a providential God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and claims that the Law was neither literally given by God nor any longer binding on Jews."

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