What is the Evidence for Evolution?

I have to say I find the comment above a little confusing, possibly because of its emotive tone. The sentence “Today, many people believe that mutations improve the DNA and expand it with new functionalities” may be true, but I think it misrepresents the evolutionist case. Words like “improve” “expand” and “new functionalities” don’t really mean anything in this context. Evolutionists certainly think that mutations alter DNA, and that some of those alterations result, usually in combination rather than individually, in enhanced reproduction in specific environments. Thus a mutation might be considered to have ‘improved’ the DNA of some individuals of a species, without improving that of the species as a whole. Similarly, the mutation need not “expand” the DNA. Sometimes reproductive enhancement results from ‘shorter’ rather than ‘longer’ DNA.

And I must say I concur with Socratic’s assessment of your voluntary genital radiation suggestion. All of us are subject to continuous involuntary radiation of our genitals, and occasional mutations that benefit reproduction both occur and disseminate - one thinks of lactose tolerance as an example - but one could not predict such a thing, or, necessarily, even recognise that it was beneficial for many generations. However, I have no doubt whatever that, in keeping with current experiments on smaller, more rapidly reproducing animals, the time is rapidly approaching when ‘improved’ genes will be discovered, and inserted into a human germline, and that it will be scientists’ children who first benefit from it.

Lactose tolerance. You’re welcome.

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Details. The most common CF allele, deltaF508, is a deletion of THREE nucleotides.[quote=“WilliamDJ, post:20, topic:35086”]
Fortunately, the hundreds of thousands mutations that occur every day in every cell are antagonized by mutation repair systems (Nobel Prize Chemistry 2015).
[/quote]Can you point to some evidence to support your claim that hundreds of thousands of mutations occur in every cell every day, William?

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False. Recombination between regions of tandem repeats routinely expands or contracts them, changing the length of DNA.

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Sorry, but so far you haven’t presented anything that I would consider as “scientific information.” Just the same old tired macro vs micro evolution idea that YEC try to pass off as “scientific” when it ain’t.

To make my point a little clearer, it doesn’t take much knowledge to know that what you said is wrong. The people who know of what they speak are also pointing out what is wrong with what you are saying so please forgive me if I don’t accept it as “scientific”, whatever that is supposed to mean.

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Nobody argues with this.

This isn’t a myth, it’s a fact. See all scientific literature concerning mutations.

Well, you play the odds long enough, they can’t all be detrimental to you! Most mutations are neutral. Lots are detrimental. And a few are beneficial.

Repeating this does not make it true.

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OK. I will play along:

I refuse to believe surgery involving doctors with scalpels has any legitimate healing use whatsoever. Why? Not any scientist in the world, nor you, will put his/her body under a deli meat slicer in order to reap any alleged medical benefit from it!

Does that make sense to you, @WilliamDJ? I just can’t believe you are serious about your argument concerning mutations. It has long been known that most mutations are basically “neutral” in terms of advantageous or disadvantageous outcomes. (Of course, what is advantageous for the population in the long run may not necessarily be advantageous for the individual.) Yes, some mutations can be very damaging to the individual—but if they have no advantage for the population, they will probably “die out” because the individual produced no or few offspring. But it only takes a an occasional “beneficial” mutation to have enormous impact on a population. Need I give examples? The mathematics of all of this has been well documented.

Indeed, if you think it impossible for mutations to play an important role in evolution, let’s see your evidence—and especially your calculations. You are contradicting everything we know about mutations and how evolution works. (And, obviously, whether or not somebody is willing to subject their genitals to a x-ray machine to help future generations is nonsensical. It is insulting to everyone’s intelligence.)

P.S. Would a scientist someday in the future be willing to accept a retrovirus treatment in order to introduce a mutation into the genome so that his/her future children might be spared some inherited genetic disease? Very possibly. The fact that SOME mutations are very damaging doesn’t mean that no mutation can ever be beneficial. That’s why I just can’t believe that you think your reasoning is logical.

In other words, you are going to totally ignore what I wrote and simply double-down on your illogical reasoning. I wasn’t asking you for more examples of harmful mutations. We are all aware of those. I was challenging your “reasoning” that if some mutations are “bad”, all mutations are therefore harmful. If you take the time to investigate how evolution operates, you’d find that harmful mutations tend to “die out” because they don’t give offspring a survival advantage—but useful mutations tend to survive and multiple in the population. That is what evolution is: changes in allele frequencies in populations over time.

Until you learn what evolution is, you are going to repeat an endless loop of declarations void of supporting evidence.

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The simple rebuttal to this is that scientists believe we have evolved such that the natural rate of mutation as caused by existing solar radiation and other factors is pretty much the ideal rate of mutation for the existing rate of natural selection to process effectively. Lab experiments that greatly increase the mutation rate wind up with too many variables to sort effectively before the organism accumulates harmful mutations and dies; too much artificial selection, on the other hand, reduces variation more than the mutation rate can keep up with. Both are less than ideal; in the middle, more or less, is life as we know it, a careful balancing act.

Nor is this ‘fine-tuning’ coincidence; if evolution works at all, we should expect to see it evolve the appropriate birth rates and level of not-quite-perfect gene repair to encourage these two drivers to operate at maximum combined efficiency.

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Yes. Excellent point.

I’m amazed out how often these kinds of jump-to-the-extreme arguments arise in anti-evolution literature. I’m trying to think of some good analogies to that genitals under the xray machines argument. (And, of course, anyone familiar with anatomy knows that the mutations we are talking about would be in the genetic material, NOT in the genital structures in general, where x-ray induced mutations would probably mean cancer for the individual.) I thought about this kind of hyperbole illustrated in how my grandfather prepared for the next generation of potatoes. He would take the remaining potatoes in the storm cellar and cut them up so that one eye was in each section, and each would grow into a a new potato plant. He would NOT make mashed potatoes with them and plant the slurry. Putting genitals in an X-ray machine would be just as bizarre and ridiculous.

I saw a take-it-to-the-max argument similar to this one the other day in watching a Youtube video by Young Earth Creationist Mark Armitage. (Yes, he’s the one who got media coverage for suing over alleged discrimination about his YEC beliefs.) Armitage strongly dislikes the published papers of Dr. Mary Schweitzer because he claims that she is trying to win the approval of “atheist evolutionists” by coming up with iron-based explanations for the “soft tissues” she researched in a triceratops fossil. How does Armitage knows that the “soft tissues” couldn’t have been preserved for millions of years (and therefore must be just a few thousand years old?) He told me that “If iron had such miraculous preservative powers, Civil War battlefields would be full of perfectly preserved corpses.”

I kid you not.

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Improved genes are produced in the expanding innovative micro biology industry by bio-engineers with skills, knowledge and creativity. Not by putting DNA under an X-ray machine. Such a thing has been tried in the past with plants and fruitfies, but the improvements did not pass sexual reproduction and were lost.

Apparently you believe that DNA is a stable molecule that can keep the nucleotide code for the construction, maintenance and replication of an organism unchanged for a long time, just like a DVD or memory stick can for the digital code of a computer program. The opposite is the case. DNA is a very large molecule and therefore very unstable. Every day, in every cell (including the germ cells), hundreds of thousands of damages occur in the DNA. Fortunately, these damages are continually repaired or eliminated by extensive mutation protection and –repair mechanisms, the discovery of which the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded. The award letter from the Swedish Academy of Sciences: http://bit.ly/1LhCGGC gives a good overview of the basic scientific facts about the instability of the DNA and the extent and complexity of the mutation protection and repair. Please read this scientific information and make a step forward in your thinking about evolution.

The theory of evolution needs to be formulated more accurately, by making a distinction between (1) the mechanism of recombination and selection of alleles and gene regulation whereby the mutation repair mechanisms do not have to come in action; and (2) the mechanism of the accumulation of beneficial inheritable, irreparable mutations, whereby the mutation repair mechanisms come in action but fail. The empirical evidence for the first mechanism cannot be used as evidence for the existence of the second mechanism. I hope that you can understand this scientific fact.

Scientists must base their theories on empirical evidence. If empirical evidence (for instance the refusal of scientists to mutate their own DNA) refutes the theory that mutations are beneficial for the DNA, then the theory must be rejected. Vested beliefs and faiths, however, often appear immune for scientific evidence, especially when they affect the worldview of a believer.

The refusal of scientists to mutate their own DNA is not empirical evidence refuting the theory that mutations are beneficial for the DNA. You have already been given examples of beneficial mutations.

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Thank you, William. Empirical evidence. Your posts indicate that you quite strongly consider the refusal of scientists to submit their gonads to X-rays as evidence that mutations in DNA cannot be beneficial. Fair enough. Please name a scientist who has been offered this treatment and refused. If you don’t, can we take it that the theory that mutations in DNA can be beneficial is supported?

More seriously, your claim in bold is nonsensical. The theory that mutations can be beneficial to DNA is not “refuted” by the behaviour of a scientist. It is supported by the discovery of mutations such as those leading to lactose tolerance in a largely intolerant species, which is not due to allele shuffling.

Your latest post illustrates the wonderful DNA mis-replication repair mechanism which operates in any living cell, and you were quite correct about the huge number of ‘mistakes’ made during cell replication (this site: http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/dna-replication-and-causes-of-mutation-409 suggests 120 000 per cell division), but you are surely not claiming that this mechanism is 100% effective. However you do seem to be claiming - and please correct me if I misrepresent you - that while deleterious alterations are sometimes not corrected, leading to cancers and various other diseases, possibly beneficial alterations are not permitted, and always ‘corrected’ back to the original DNA. Is that right?

If so, then I would like to know how the repair mechanism can tell the difference between a beneficial and a deleterious variation, and why it only acts to prevent beneficial ones. After all, when a mutation occurs, it is neither detrimental not beneficial. It can only be judged one or the other in the light of the increased reproductive success of the organism in which it occurs. Does the DNA repair mechanism predict this?

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@WilliamDJ

You are fixating on a side show that has no scientific bearing on Common Descent and Speciation>

The facts tell us both Common Descent and Speciation have happened for millions of years, whether or not a distinction is intentionally made between “the mechanism of recombination” and the “selection of alleles… whereby the mutation repair mechanisms do not have to come in action.”

The fact is, mutation occurs in virtually all life despite any cellular mechanisms to repair genetic mutation.

This is a complete red herring.

@WilliamDJ

If you pick up almost any copy of a book on the genetics of Evolution, most include an admission that most mutations are either non-beneficial or deleterious.

Another strawman argument.

This is ostensibly a reply to my comment, and yet I am puzzled how to respond. Your comment assumes that my use of the phrase “scientists believe” indicates a lack of empirical evidence, and yet in the sentence immediately following the one you quoted, I discuss the evidence supporting this particular scientific belief. I see nothing in your response to indicate you processed anything beyond the first eight words of my reply, especially since you repeat the nonsensical claim that I and several others just explained to you did not carry water, and why.

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This paragraph is completely false. Readers should invert the assertions to get something resembling the truth.

There are some important things missing from this conversation about scientists irradiating their own gonads. Pictures, for example, but let’s hold off on that for a while. :smiley:

  1. The suggestion is that mutations must not be “good” or else everyone would want more of them. This is a strawman. In the context of evolution and genetics, mutations are like vitamin A. You have to have them, but too many of them is disaster. There is no innovation without variation, but runaway mutation is death.

  2. The snarky comment about gonads in an X-ray machine obscures the fact that biologists regularly subject experimental organisms to increased mutation rates, precisely so they can increase the amount of variation in order to do an experiment. The most common use of this approach is in a genetic screen. The basic idea is that the experimenter turns up the mutation rate, then introduces some form of selection that is intended to either a) reveal insights into the nuts and bolts of some biological process or, b) in some cases, is intended to obtain new versions of molecule or a process. Goal a) is almost always to break something. Goal b) is the opposite.

An example of a) is just about any genetic screen run by a developmental biologist over the past few decades. In the lab where I was a postdoc, half the scientists worked on the fruit fly and did genetic screens to find genes that controlled particular cellular processes. Instead of X-rays, they used a chemical mutagen that does pretty much the same thing. They intended to break genes, ideally just one or a few at a time. It is likely that over the years of doing screens like these, scientists turned up lots of new gene versions that weren’t merely broken. I know they frequently turned up variants with weird new “functions” and genes that were partially but not completely crippled. But since these weren’t the goal of the experiment, they weren’t studied further. There are probably exceptions, but I don’t know of any off the top of my head.

But then there’s b). In this type of experiment, the scientists are harnessing the power of evolution by turning up the mutation rate, typically while focusing on a single protein or RNA, then selecting for variants that have new or improved activities. I think X-rays are rarely if ever the mutation engine of choice, but that doesn’t matter. The point is that is common (and increasingly so) for scientists to deliberately increase the mutation rate in a system, for the specific purpose of creating variation and even innovation.

Gonads in an X-ray machine? Cute, but actually nothing even close to a counterargument in a discussion of evolutionary mechanisms.

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The first time I saw you post that argument—especially the genitals under the x-ray beam— I assumed you were being facetious. Does the fact that few physicians want to stick their hand into the rotating knives of a garbage disposal somehow prove that surgeons don’t really believe that a skillfully-applied knife can heal a diseased patient? Does that sound logical?

Yet, you seem to be doubling-down on that argument. Do you believe that that it is persuasive? I’m still wondering if there is some aspect of that type of absurdist argument that I’m missing. I will admit that I sometimes fail to catch some “obvious” aspect of an argument because I don’t recognize some pop culture reference, or some inside joke, or even some English idiom that is new to me. The expectation that if mutations were ever beneficial, then scientists would voluntarily subject their genitals to an x-ray beam sounds absolutely ridiculous to me. (By ridiculous, I don’t just mean the absurd x-ray experiment, although it is certainly ridiculous enough. I am mainly referring to the ridiculous “logic” of such an argument. That’s why I will feel relieved—while also feeling a bit foolish for my cluelessness—when someone explains to me the pop culture reference or whatever that makes all of the difference to the “colorful hyperbole” of your illustration.)

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Did you know that information = entropy? This means the 2nd law of thermodynamics guarantees that information content will increase with time, unless we do something to stop it.

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As has already been pointed out, the 2nd LOT says that increased entropy means expanding the information content. So you are wrong about that.

As to energy becoming available “for free”, I don’t understand what you mean by “for free” and why you think it is a problem. Yes, the universe is “running downhill” as Isaac Asimov used to say. Our sun is headed towards extinction, but, fortunately, we get several billion years of “free energy” in the meantime. That “free energy” gives us lots of food to eat, builds forests, and even stores energy in the form of coal and oil which we use in countless ways. If that is not a lot of “free energy”, then I guess I don’t know what you mean by the expression. Can you explain?

Solar energy builds trees and entire forests. It fuels reproduction. The sun’s free energy brings gestation, meiosis, and new human beings, generation after generation. That “free energy” produces all of those increasing-complexity kinds of things. So why are the evolutionary processes which are fueled by the sun somehow any different from any other biological process?

@williamdj, are you implying that you think that evolutionary processes are rendered impossible by The Laws of Thermodynamics because there is increased complexity? If yes, why isn’t the increased complexity of a seed growing into a tree or a fertilized egg into a human a violation?

Yes, decay is inevitable, but you surely can’t be saying that nothing ever grows/develops. Yet again, I must be missing some aspect of your argument. You said:

Sure they will. So what? In the meantime, those natural processes grow things: Solar radiation fuels the entire biosphere and feeds us. Lightning sends atmospheric nitrogen into the soil where bacteria feed nitrates to plant roots and become nitrogen-rich proteins. Rain waters lush growth and wind scatters seeds and brings waves of new growth. Does that sounds like ONLY decay?

What am I missing, @WilliamDJ? You appear to be making arguments in favor of the very things you deny!

Yes, eventually everything will decay. Eventually, if God does not bring the New Heaven and New Earth as promised, the universe will scatter its energy so that it becomes less and less able to do work. Meanwhile, there’s billions of years of growing complexity and not just decay.

Help me out here, William.

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Sure, evolution exists; no doubt! But the continuous beneficial adaptation of living nature (for instance the changes in the beaks of finches) is produced by recombination of gene variants and selection and by gene regulation, whereby the mutation repair mechanisms do not have to come in action. They are not produced by the accumulation of irreparable, inheritable, code expanding mutations.

Nylon eating bacteria, feature a beneficial recombination of gene variants from the gene pool of related tribes of bacteria.

Lactose digesting humans, feature a beneficial gene variant from the human gene pool.

I am one of the scientists that refuse to put their genitals under an X-ray machine to improve their sex cells. All my academic friends refuse it.

You seem unable to learn that the mechanism of recombination of gene variants and selection and gene regulation is beneficial, in contrast to the mechanism of accumulation of irreparable, inheritable, code expanding mutations. A population with dysfunctioning mutation repair suffers from cancers and Syndrome of Down like handicaps. According to Darwin, it loses the continual struggle for food, shelter and a partner with a population that possesses well functioning mutation repair.

Irreparable mutations require dysfunctional mutation repair, which is a severe selective disadvantage, leading to fast extinction of a population.

You are wrong. Putting organisms, organs or genes in family trees does not prove that they originated from each other by the accumulation of irreparable, code expanding, inheritable mutations. That mechanism only works in Wonderland, not in the real world. Your facts are beliefs.

Without the mutation repair mechanisms in every cell, the DNA would turn into complete chaos, within a life time.

Mutations are an enemy of the DNA, not a friend. They are antagonized by mutation repair mechanisms in every cell, and by numerous hurdle races for food, shelter and a partner.

Your are completely wrong. (I graduated in Thermodynamics in 1975 at the University of Technology of Delft). Order and information eventually turn into the maximal disorder (‘entropy’). All of this has been discussed lately on the Biologos forum at:
https://discourse…org/t/the-second-law-of-thermodynamics-also-holds-for-open-systems/26534

(1) The mechanism of recombination of gene variants and gene regulation, whereby the mutation repair mechanisms do not have to come in action, adapts the DNA to changing circumstances, and is comparable with the skillfully-applied knife of a surgeon. During the recombination (‘cross over’), the exchange of code expanding mutations appears impossible.

(2) Mutating your DNA by radiation, heat, chemical influences and natural decay, is comparable with sticking your hand into the blindly rotating knives of a garbage disposal.

Your comparison helps us to understand the difference between both mechanisms, and makes it crystal clear that the second mechanism cannot improve the DNA and expand it with new functionalities.

ILLUSTRATION 1
Video Script: Scene at the Radiotherapy Ward of a University Medical Centre.

PATIENT: “Doctor, you are going to radiate the lung cancer spots on my left lung for 30 days. Would it be possible to aim an additional mild dose on my genitals for a couple of days, to enhance the DNA in my sperm? If my lung cancer cannot be cured by you, my wife Alicia and I want to make a baby and bless it with improved DNA”.

DOCTOR: “Are you joking?”.

PATIENT: “Not at all!” < smiles>. Alicia and I strongly believe in the theory of evolution and in all the evolutionary scientists who have proved that mutations of the DNA are beneficial". < looks confidently>

DOCTOR: “Really?”

PATIENT: “Of course!” .“We have been raised by our parents and teachers in the power of evolution. We have read many books on it. We know exactly how evolution works and what it can do for us”. “All we need is a mild dose on my genitals that balances the positive effects of mutations with the negative effects, because - you know - life is a balance!” < Smiles confidently>. Mutations are like vitamin A. You have to have them, but too many of them is disaster. .

DOCTOR : “I think you need to speak with one of our psychologists” < looks worried>. I’ll make an appointment for you".

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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