Does evolutionary theory provide any useful scientific benefit?


(George Brooks) #367

@benkirk

  1. Emphasizing the COMMON genetics of Mice to Humans seems like a rather unproductive focus if that’s all you are going to do. If you use the commonality as a BENCHMARK, then maybe you can move to examining where the DIFFERENCES are, yes?

  2. The studies you provide are certainly not going to convince a Creationist… unless you are prepared to EXTRACT the common theme. I know I wasn’t able to get much out of it … and frankly, I’m a little skeptical that you are able to EXPLAIN what you say is so important in those studies.

  3. I am saying I cannot see the common story… especially because of the technical nature of those reports.

  4. I think what we need are reports raning from “National Geographic” to “Scientific American” … and a focus on what SEPARATES species that share common ancestors from 1 million to 50 million years ago.


(Benjamin Kirk) #368

[quote=“gbrooks9, post:367, topic:548”]

  1. Emphasizing the COMMON genetics of Mice to Humans seems like a rather unproductive focus if that’s all you are going to do.[/quote]
    It’s what I’m starting with, not all I was going to do. But I’m rethinking that. :relaxed:

Yes, but if you refuse to engage in a discussion of functional equivalence, there’s not much point in moving on. BTW, “common genetics” is yet another neologism that obfuscates more than it clarifies.

I’m sorry…are you a creationist?

I already did. Human orthologs are sufficient to routinely rescue mice lacking a given gene. This means that they are functionally equivalent and the sequence differences between them have no known functional significance.

This is NOT predicted by your hypothesis that new mutations drive evolution. It is predicted if evolution is driven by existing polymorphism.

See above. It’s beginning to appear that you don’t want to see the common story.

[quote]4) I think what we need are reports raning from “National Geographic” to “Scientific American” … and a focus on what SEPARATES species that share common ancestors from 1 million to 50 million years ago.
[/quote]That’s nice. Good luck in your quest. An open, scientific attitude on your part would predict that you’d have much more interest in the data that are inconsistent with your hypothesis.

In the meantime, I refer you back to what I wrote 10 days ago:


(George Brooks) #369

@benkirk

Sooooo… I’m guessing the TRICK word in this sentence is REQUIRED. Since Evolution is ANY change … then obviously this is true. < yawn >

But again you intentionally draw attention away from the opposite side of the equation: you seem to fixxate on evolution on a small scale… While I am attempting to focus on evolution on a BIG scale !!!

ONE question, Ben:

Can you suggest the BEST EXAMPLE of speciation that occurred without any “new mutations” ?


(Benjamin Kirk) #370

The distance between mice and humans isn’t big?


(George Brooks) #371

@Benkirk,

It just doesn’t seem like you have your heart in this…

Aren’t we supposed to constructing the most persuasive analysis of what it takes to separate one population from another - - which means assessing the key differences between VERY SIMILAR species.

Anallyzing the difference between MICE and HUMANS is not particularly helpful under these circumstances…

If you have the details to make that analysis helpful… then you should have even BETTER details on two similar BUT DIFFERENT species.

We are looking for the minimum factors needed for speciation … not quantifying GIANT swaths of genetic evolution (between mice and humans).


(Benjamin Kirk) #372

Yet the day before, you wrote:

Aren’t those things contradictory?


(Amy Chai) #373

I think when you are talking about “evolutionary theory” you really need to specify whether you are talking about the evolutionary theory of origins (common ancestor, paleobiology) or the idea of mutations in genes that are observable in real time in the present.
It is pretty obvious that the fields of genetic engineering, vaccine development, and the like do benefit from “evolutionary theory.” But then again, genetics “per se” and the science of adaptation and mutation (aka microevolution) has never been in any way controversial. For this reason, I will guess that you are asking about the “common ancestor” idea, and whether that has produced any benefit. I am going to say…no.
When I was in medical school, often we would speak of genes as being “evolutionarily conserved.” What that means is that they are “similar to the genes of other species.” But whether you think of the gene as being shared with a common ancestor or merely similar does not really mean anything to the practical application. I think people would be surprised to find how many top physicians are actually Creationist. It literally has zero impact on the practice of the biomedical arts, including genetic engineering.
In sociology, I feel that “evolution” is being used as the new “god of the gaps.” Now sociologists have always produced inferior science, it is a very, very soft science. (hope there are none on this thread, if so…sorry). Now whatever humans do…well, it must be because evolution did it. Someone is altruistic? Must be some survival advantage. Someone is selfish? Must be some survival advantage. It doesn’t seem to matter if the human behaviors are polar opposites, they must be caused by evolutionary pressures. This might be true, or it might not. But it is sloppy to backtrack in this way.

I think that we need to think about what we mean by “useful scientific benefit.” It is always useful to think and learn. It is always useful to understand more and more about our world as we seek to uncover what is true about our past as well as our present. So it is a useful idea even if there is no product or application that we can get out of it. The distant past is the distant past. It is useful to study it. It helps create a framework for thinking. It is useful to help piece together history and understand genetic relationships.
But unfortunately, the aggressively metaphysical interpretation of common ancestry (ie: Scientism) has led to this ridiculous antagonism towards those who are Creationist, and the over-emphasis of common ancestry as if it were the one and only central dogma of all science, and that any who don’t buy into it “cannot possibly produce any good science and must be Cretins” which is demonstrably false.
I appreciate the BioLogos community a great deal, and even though I am not particularly invested in what anyone else believes about the topic of evolution I hope to see a climate where nobody is ridiculed or diminished because of what they think. I hope Christians do not consider BioLogos to be a “dangerous heresy” and I hope Atheists do not consider Creationists/IDs to be “dangerous Cretins.” I think that quite literally the issue has no actual importance in the every day world, whether you are an astronaut, a bioengineer, or a ditch digger. But it has become a “big deal” and that is why we are all here.


#374

@AmyChai, I find that statement itself surprising. After all, very few physicians are scientists.

Most physicians have very limited training in evolutionary biology, physics, geology, paleontology, and other scientific fields relevant to the “creation versus evolution” controversy. Considering the significant prevalence of Young Earth Creationism in American society, I would expect a large percentage of physicians to have come from that background and hold to that religious belief just as I would a great many dentists, civil engineers, metalurgists, accountants, mathematicians, architects, farmers, butchers, and carpenters. Why would physicians have religious beliefs all that different from other Americans from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds?

Relatively few non-scientists who come from an anti-evolution background have had much time and motivation to investigate the evidence for evolution. I can’t imagine why physicians would be an exception to that very human tendency.

I came from such a creationist background, and as a young science professor at a secular university I maintained my anti-evolution and Young Earth Creationist beliefs until middle-age. My change of fields and intensive study of Semitic languages and cultures forced me to confront the many self-contradictions of my literalist interpretations of Genesis. Indeed, I’ve known a number of physicians who also eventually left their anti-evolution, Young Earth Creationist beliefs behind them as they observed more and more of the evidence in scripture and in creation itself. I’ve not investigated the statistics, but I would bet that a higher percentage of physicians affirm evolution than Americans in general, simply because some of them have had more exposure to the relevant scientific fields in their undergraduate and graduate training. (And nowadays many medical schools incorporate evolutionary theory into the curriculum.)

Of course, I continue to consider myself a “creationist”, because I certainly believe God created the universe. The difference is that I now recognize that that creation includes evolutionary processes and billions of years of history–and nothing in the scriptures denies the abundant evidence of that history which God gave us. Not everyone, including many top physicians, have yet to take the time to investigate the evidence. In fact, even in my case, I didn’t have opportunity to intensively study evolution until my retirement.

I’m old enough to have observed the gradual development of the “micro-macro evolution mambo” in my own Young Earth Creationist community in the 1970’s when I was a “creation science” speaker-debater. The evidence of evolutionary processes was becoming so overwhelming that I saw my colleagues start to concede more and more of the obvious science and instead try to divide and partition evolutionary theory in ways which simply didn’t make sense. I remember asking the late Henry Morris what process or boundary prevented “micro-evolution” from becoming “macro-evolution” over time. Instead of answering that question, he kept moving the dividing line between his imagined micro and macro aspects of evolution. Scientists have always considered macro-evolution to be evolution beyond any perceived “species boundaries”. But gradually I saw my Young Earth Creationist colleagues revise the meaning of the Biblical “kinds” (baramins)—an imagined technical term which my knowledge of Biblical Hebrew lexicography cannot accept—to morph into changes within a taxonomic genus and then to the family level and eventually to class, order, and kingdom!

The result is that today, whenever the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, we hear the comical, “But that’s not evolution. It’s still a bacteria!” So what’s left for the “boundary” to macro-evolution among creationists? “That’s not evolution. It’s still a eucaryote!”


#375

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


(Casper Hesp) #377

You insulted so many millions of badgers just now… Including all those badgers throughout history that might be ending up in Heaven (according to this BioLogos article). I hope they won’t be giving you a hard time in the afterlife :stuck_out_tongue: .


(George Brooks) #380

When I want to avoid the “Micro” vs. “Macro” evolution tar ball … I discuss the links between a Fish and a Whale.

I don’t know anyone that quibbles over the use of the term “species” and “speciation” when we focus on the entire SWEEP of change from aquatic vertebrate … to terrestrial tetrapod … to aquatic mammal. .


(Benjamin Kirk) #381

[quote=“AmyChai, post:373, topic:548”]
I think when you are talking about “evolutionary theory” you really need to specify whether you are talking about the evolutionary theory of origins (common ancestor, paleobiology) or the idea of mutations in genes that are observable in real time in the present.[/quote]
Hello Amy,

Neither of the things you have specified are at all clear. In the latter case, for a mutation to be involved in evolution, the frequency of the mutant allele in a population would need to change.

I think when you are talking about “evolutionary theory” you really need to specify…

Perhaps you could specify what you mean by adaptation and microevolution, as the science of adaptation is highly relevant to macroevolution, too. I’d call adaptation a phenomenon, not a science.

[quote]I think people would be surprised to find how many top physicians are actually Creationist. It literally has zero impact on the practice of the biomedical arts, including genetic engineering.
[/quote]How many physicians who do genetic engineering are creationists?


(George T Rahn) #385

Perhaps, medical discovery is not dependent on evolutionary theory as it might only concentrate on its own limited field of reference for investigation purposes.


#386

I wonder if anyone would have the stats on that. But I do know that the fellow who invented the “gene gun” is a creationist. (Dr. John Sanford, a plant geneticist) Imagine that.


(Benjamin Kirk) #388

Is an N of 1 useful, John? And when was the last paper using the gene gun published? What relevance does this engineering achievement have to the truth of creationism? Is it even science?

Do you not see how obvious it is that you aren’t looking into any of these things for yourself?


#389

I was replying to this question you raised: How many physicians who do genetic engineering are creationists?

Do you even know what you are talking about? Are you not even confusing your own self?


(Benjamin Kirk) #390

Were you?

So are you saying the answer to “how many” is “only one”? Is Sanford a physician?


#391

@johnZ, @benkirk, and others:

I’m curious why the question led to its own thread. Is there some context that explains why the question of the “useful scientific benefit” of evolutionary theory was asked? Aren’t scientific explanations always useful in the sense that they explain data?

Or was the intended meaning something like “best known practical applications that the average person understands”?

Of course, anybody investing in biotech and so many other health related companies nowadays cares about the profits in the scientific benefits of which evolutionary biology has brought entire industry sectors. Or was the person posting the question simply asking for a list of some of the most cited benefits of the theory of evolution as applied to various problems and applications?

Honestly, I thought of posting the obvious answer (“Yes”) but I assume people want lists.

(This is a very long thread so I’ve not tried to read all of it. I’d guess that my question has come up already.)


(Christy Hemphill) #392

It is a YEC contention that the theory of evolution is just something that you have to learn in school but mastering it or subscribing to it does not really impact the practical work of most scientists. I think maybe it was even suggested at one point that it was a waste of time for students to study it.


#393

Is that a common opinion? I could perhaps understand it many years ago. But now that genome mapping is so common and things like flu vaccines are based upon understanding evolution, not to mention all sorts of bio-engineering products, it would seem to be an all too embarrassing argument that would make people snicker.

Of course, all I have to do is follow the presidential campaigns to realize that bizarro world is here and snickering is hardly a deterrent to anything.