Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Making of a Paradigm Shift: Loss of Function Mutations

I was recently referred to a series of freely available videos at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. It's rather obvious their object is public relations since most of these videos deal with political hot topics, including six dealing with evolution and one with climate change. Never doubt that secular humanists take their missionary work just as seriously as evangelicals do. I was actually more interested in some of the other videos, since there's not much available for public consumption on evolution that I haven't already heard, but I decided to have some fun critiquing the evolution vids on my blog instead. I chose to start with the five-part series called The Making of the Fittest. The first four feature Sean Carroll, one of the premier evangelists of evolution appearing quite comfortable in his natural habitat. I'm glad people like him are doing this sort of thing though, because now with the pressure on evolutionary theory increasing we are starting to see the real arguments come out into the open. In previous decades, evidence was often exaggerated, consisted of completely unscientific story-telling about something nobody even claimed to observe and in some cases was even faked. Evolutionists leaned far too often on their favorite crutch: an argument from authority and its sister, the argument from consensus. The natural history museum in my hometown no longer displays artists' renderings of missing links in human evolution constructed from a fossil pig's tooth. Now they talk about pathogenic bacteria and viruses evolving resistance and all sorts of things that actually belong in a science classroom, as opposed to fairy tales about frogs turning into princes. This is a positive development, and if we, meaning creationists and intelligent design theorists, can continue to force them to rely on the evidence alone rather than the fairy tales of our Monday-Friday School of the established atheist church, the whole edifice will continue to fall apart. Why? Because the actual evidence of molecules to man evolution is thin at best, virtually non-existent being slightly less charitable, and these videos are an excellent example of that.

I will write five posts, one per video and each one making a single point using the video as a foil. This is not to say that the same points could not be made for the other videos, it's just a convenient way of organizing them.

The first video examines the famous, at least in some circles, example of the stickleback fish. Sticklebacks have spines on their back and pelvis, but some of them don't...EVOLUTION!

How did these fish evolve spines on their backs? Sounds really cool and a great example of evolution doesn't it? Except they didn't evolve spines on their backs. They evolved no-spines on their backs. How's that you ask? Let me break it down: They had spines. They lost the spines. Did they develop spines again? Only if you breed them with sticklebacks who never lost them in the first place, or use an immense amount of intelligence and genetically engineer them...using information from sticklebacks who never lost them in the first place. And there you have the classic intelligent design argument based on information. Information can be destroyed, but it cannot be created without intelligence. This particular video is probably my favorite one of the lot because it makes almost the entire argument for me.

"In just a few thousand years, these fish underwent a dramatic skeletal change, completely losing their pelvic spines. As pelvic spines are homologous to the hind legs of four-legged vertabrates, the change we see in sticklebacks is the equivalent of losing legs."

In other words, the selective advantage of these fish is not having spines, and in order to get rid of the spines, the mutation got rid of the entire pelvis for good measure.

"Fish that have lost their pelvis have deleted the pelvic switch. It's gone."

It's gone, never to return unless a human being intervenes and breeds or engineers it back in. It could possibly breed back in in the wild, but in this case it appears to be unlikely since these populations are isolated in lakes.

I will grant the evolutionist that this is an excellent case study of the power of evolution if he will also grant me that this is no explanation whatsoever of how stickleback fish got spines in the first place. Spines sticking from a pelvic bone are nothing next to the awesome number, variety and complexity of biological structures which evolution must be able to create from scratch if is to be held responsible for all of the biological diversity on earth, rather than party to its destruction.

Now that's whack.

Next up...Convergent Evolution and the Wide Path to Destruction.