What is Universal Common Descent?

Hi Dennis
If were going to stick with debate tactics I would claim you are creating a straw man argument because exceeding unlikely does not mean cannot. Winning the debate is only interesting if we are on the right side of scientific reality since we all share the same ideology.

When Meyer used Doug Axe’s work to claim all proteins cannot evolve due to his experiment showing the rareness of protein folds, he was missing the detailed analysis of Axe’s experiment.

The protein in the experiment had to able to perform two functions in order to break down penicillin.
-Bind with a partner protein in order to make the complete enzyme.
-Bind and break down penicillin.

I concede that if the requirement was any single one of these functions then the chance of success may be higher the 1/10^77

@Cornelius_Hunter

ANY change in the gene pool is Evolution. You need to work on your basics.

I didn’t know that. Can you explain why that is trrue?

@Cornelius_Hunter

It is true by consensus supported by common sense.

If we didn’t use this interpretation, there would be any number of cases where a change would not be called evolution until thousands of years or millions of years allowed an old feature to become suddenly useful due to some new feature in the environment or some other change in the gene pool.

For you to fixate on some of the most technical aspects of cell structure or function, and not know that any genetic change is Evolution, suggests a rather slim foundation in these matters.

George Brooks

Hello Bill,

Two questions:

  1. Whose (and how much) work was Meyer ignoring when he only presented Axe’s work?
  2. What’s the gaping weakness in Axe’s experimental design?
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Hi Ben
Any thoughts you have here would be appreciated.

I have discussed this experiment with Art Hunt(wrote the counter argument in panda’s thumb) and he was concerned how Doug measured the binding strength of the enzyme. Doug used a different technique. He measured the bacteria’s ability to grow in the presents of penicillin.

What new binding site is that? Can you indicate which part of that article you are referring to?

The novel binding between lambda phage protein J and OmpF, which required 4 amino acid substitutions within protein J.

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Until we look at the number of fixed mutations, splicing changes , and gene expression changes that are required to make the change. I think special creation is a valid competing hypothesis.

BTW thanks for citing the alternative splicing paper :slight_smile:

I would really like to see Cornelius’ model. I wonder if it’s scientifically testable and falsifiable.

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I would like to see any model of CD that is falsifiable in the scientific sense - you constantly conflate attempts at finding patters and data fitting with genuine scientific models. My impression is you have no expertise in this area, despite you many comments on the subject.

@Billcole… I would accept your Special Creation if you accept a 5 billion year old Earth. If you don’t accept a very old Earth, your special creation really just amounts to an attempt to distract readers from the findings of geologists and physicists.

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So, @gbrooks9, @billcole is actually a theistic evolutionist in that he largely accepts common descent, and certainly accepts an old earth. He is also convinced by many ID arguments, and because of this argues there is strong evidence that natural processes alone were not enough.

Moreover, he has been very open to the possibility he is wrong. He has been a kind and respectful interlocutor. We need to treat him better than this. Just assuming that he is YEC and making ad hominems is not really the best way to engage.

@Billcole, by the way, thanks for joining us here. I do really appreciate your comments. I’ve been a bit caught up with Hunter, but have always appreciated your open-mindedness and kind dialogue here. I hope that more people meet you on that level. Thanks for braving the forums here. I really appreciate it.

We have looked at this. And it makes a ton of sense in light of neutral theory and common descent. This is exactly the data that convinced me of the scientific strength of evolutionary theory. In the details, in the math, evolution makes rigorous sense of this.

Of course Special Creation is always a valid hypothesis, but we need a clear model of it to test against the data. Currently we have no model for special creation that makes sense of the data.

That is easy @GJDS, we falsify models of common descent all the time. For example the strict “Tree of Life” CD model was falsified by strong evidence of ad-mixing at the population level and also horizontal gene transfer. Also the neo-Darwinian positive selection dominate change model of CD was falsified in the 60’s by Haldane and Kimura. Also, there was several competing models of human CD; did we diverge first from our CA with orangutans or chimps? Turns out the answer is chimps, and orangutan CD model was not correct.

So I have now presented three CD models that have been falsified by the data. So yes, CD models are falsifiable. And in the genomic age, several trees built on much less reliable phenotyping data have been revised because of genetic data. This is exactly what we expect, because genetic data is much more powerful at adjudicating different models. There is so much information in DNA that it has allowed to see much more clearly the vague patterns we had only seen by phenotyping before.

So yes, CD is falsifiable.

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I think you’re avoiding massive amounts of evidence.

[quote]I have discussed this experiment with Art Hunt(wrote the counter argument in panda’s thumb) and he was concerned how Doug measured the binding strength of the enzyme. Doug used a different technique. He measured the bacteria’s ability to grow in the presents of penicillin.
[/quote]
There’s that, which isn’t measuring the enzyme at all.

The bigger hole is the fact that Axe started with a temperature-sensitive mutant, not the normal protein. The mutant was pre-selected to be at the very edge of stability, so of course subsequent changes are likely to destabilize it even more.

It doesn’t say anything about the evolution of that normal, wild-type protein, much less all proteins.

And how about all of the other relevant data?

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Hi George
As Joshua said, in his post above, I accept an old earth. In fact until 2 years ago I accepted universal common descent. I believe that basic structure of matter is enough evidence for Gods existence so the “how” of life’s diversity I am open to.

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A deal’s a deal. Starting tomorrow, I expect you to start defending special creation.

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Hi Joshua
First, thanks for the kind words. I think you have represented my position very well. I am interested in pursuing the chimp and man discussion with a goal to better understand the two competing hypothesis.

[quote]We have looked at this. And it makes a ton of sense in light of neutral theory and common descent. This is exactly the data that convinced me of the scientific strength of evolutionary theory. In the details, in the math, evolution makes rigorous sense of this.

Of course Special Creation is always a valid hypothesis, but we need a clear model of it to test against the data. Currently we have no model for special creation that makes sense of the data.[/quote]

Can you help me with the math here? How many mutations are you assuming and what model are you using to determine how long it would take to get those mutations fixed in the population?

I think the splicing data is a case for common descent or special creation depending on further investigation. Where did these splicing codes come from? I think this will take time because I don’t think we understand exactly how alternative splicing is translated from DNA to the spliceosome.

Is it possible to go from a chimp to man with random changes followed by selection changing splicing codes. This could be confirmed by experiment once we know how to modify the splicing codes. Changing exon sequences could be very harmful to the animal.

One other issue is the titan muscle protein differences between chimps and man. The titan protein is over 30000 amino acids in both species but is about 8% shorter in chimps. This change being by mutation is highly suspect. The titan protein is highly mutation sensitive and its length would likely correspond to a change in myosin and actin in order for the muscles to operate properly. Again this could be confirmed by experiment.

The interesting new idea is that alternative splicing played a large role in the evolutionary story.

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Can you explain why you think Axe’s methodology does not lead to an accurate calculation of how much DNA must be worked through to evolve through mutation the enzyme sub unit that he modified.

I can see a case for starting near the edge (temperature sensitive) of the functioning space to see the likelihood the mutations would move you toward or away from function.

I agree he is not directly measuring binding but ultimately the bacteria’s ability to survive in a penicillin environment is where the rubber meets the road.

@Jay313,

And if you had been following my meanderings on these boards … you will have noticed that I am one of the first to remind newcomers that criticizing BioLogos for evolutionary scenarios that don’t include God’s intervention or involvement is like “going to a Boy Scout convention and criticizing them for not wearing skirts!”

:fearful: :flushed: :cold_sweat: :innocent: :cop: :santa:

I can’t be 100% positive, because I don’t believe we have surveyed the board participants (let alone BioLogos members), but I think there must be plenty of BioLogos supporters who are Christians and who are content with the idea that God intervened on the difficult parts of Evolution!

These are different words. Everyone connected to BioLogos (at least in an official way) thinks God is involved with evolution. But you’ll find a variety of opinions about whether God intervened in natural history. Generally speaking, BioLogos folks believe that the very nature of natural processes is that God’s purposes unfold without a need for his constant (or even occasional) intervention. But again, that’s very different from involvement. In fact, one of the main goals of BioLogos is to help people see the difference between these two words, as applied to God’s interaction with nature.

If someone was to believe that evolution happened with zero involvement by God, they would fall outside of the BioLogos belief statement, so we would not have any official connection with them.

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