National Geographic

Experimental Evolution And The False Solace of “They’re Still Bacteria”

When Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution, he resigned himself to only seeing its effects. Evolution happened so slowly, he was convinced, that we couldn’t see life changing from one generation to the next by a mechanism such as natural selection. So he found other ways to amass evidence for evolution.

He pointed out, for instance, that natural selection was a logical–even inescapable–fact of life. Individuals varied in their traits. Some of those variations influenced how many offspring they had. And those traits could also be passed down to offspring. Under such conditions, natural selection just happens.

Darwin also looked back over the history of life and showed how powerfully evolution could explain its large-scale patterns. He couldn’t account for every jot and tittle over the past four billion years, of course. But he could, for example, account for how groups of species shared sets of traits: because they descended from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago.

Starting in the mid-1900s, however, evolutionary biologists  began documenting measurable evolution over the course of years, not millennia. As chronicled by Jonathan Weiner in The Beak of the Finch, for example, Peter and Rosemary Grant have measured changes in the beaks of Darwin’s finches over the past four decades.

Microbes–which breed much faster than animals and acquire mutations at a faster rate–are also opening new lines of research into evolution. Scientists like Richard Lenski and Paul Turner are tracking the evolution of bacteria and viruses over a matter of weeks, or even days.

This week in my “Matter” column for the New York Times, I took a look at a new study on experimental evolution. Bacteria living in Petri dishes evolved extra tails, which allowed them to swim faster and take over their populations. The experiment is fascinating in many ways–from its potential applications to medicine to what it says about the predictability of evolution. Plus, it comes with cool videos.

While the response to my column has been generally enthusiastic (thanks), I have gotten some negative comments that echo an old refrain I often hear when I write about experimental evolution. Basically: they’re still bacteria.

 

Here’s a related chain of tweets…

 

 

Opponents of evolution often like to decree what evolution really is. That way, when scientists study evolution, they can declare, “That’s not evolution.”

Nevathir, for example, claims that that what happened in this experiment is just “pattern formation,” which apparently refers to how dogs give birth to puppies that have different color patterns. (That’s not actually called pattern formation, but I have to guess here.)

Puppies get different color patterns because (among other reasons) they inherit different combinations of genes from their parents. The experiments I wrote about this week are not “pattern formation” in this sense of the phrase. They started with genetically identical bacteria, which divided, producing identical clones except when new mutations arose. Those mutations were then passed down to their descendants. Mutations to one gene in particular led to the emergence of “hyperswarmers.” Hyperswarmers were genetically programmed to make more tails, which allowed them to swim faster than their ancestors. And they quickly drove slower bacteria extinct as they came to dominate the population.

That is evolution–evolution in under a week, in fact.

V. Hugo asks what new traits were created. Apparently acquiring a number of new tails is not a new trait, in the same way that a mutation in people can lead to the development of an extra finger on the hand. And apparently changes can only be called evolution if they involved the evolution of a new trait.

It’s very hard for me to see how evolving from a single tail to up to half a dozen tails–all of which work together rather than getting tangled up with each other–is not a new trait. But even if we go along with V. Hugo this far, his sort of argument still fails, because it’s not an argument at all. He’s just creating a personal definition of evolution in order to scoff at scientific research. The origin of new traits is part of evolution, but so is the spread of beneficial mutations due to natural selection.

I suspect that Nevathir and V. Hugo aren’t satisfied with this experiment because it isn’t a large-scale episodes of evolution–the split between species, for example, or the origin of an eye or a hand. (I’m guessing here, but it’s a guess educated on many previous such comments.) Large-scale episodes take time, typically stretching across thousands or millions of years. The scientists who study bacteria over the course of a few weeks don’t expect to witness such transformations. Instead, they are finding that they can dissect the mechanisms of evolution. They can even document the emergence of new genes, as mutations accidentally duplicate stretches of DNA, which can then begin to take on new functions.

And then there’s the “They’re-still-bacteria” remark. I hear variations of this refrain many times, which makes me assume that it gives opponents of evolution great comfort. Bacteria are one “kind” of life form, and since these experiments don’t show them evolving into another “kind”–like a dog–then they reveal nothing.

Such a remark isn’t just wrong-headed about evolution, though. It reveals a misunderstanding of bacteria. Bacteria originated about 3.5 billion years ago and have been diversifying into many different forms ever since. Some bacteria float in the ocean, turning sunlight into carbon. Others breathe iron. Others make squid glow. Watching bacteria evolve in a Petri dish helps us to understand not just evolution in general, but bacteria in all their particulars.

 

There are 95 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. NewEnglandBob
    August 16, 2013

    The response to something like “…but it is still bacteria” is something like “…but you are still ignorant and your theistic beliefs make you ineducable and willfully obtuse.”

  2. Mike Lewinski
    August 16, 2013

    NEVATHIR seems to be committing the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, if I understand it correctly.

    However, this raises a point I’d like to learn more about. I think most of us lay-folk have an idea that species are separated from each other by an inability to cross-breed. But bacteria are asexual, right? I mean there’s plasmid exchange, but that can go across species and even whole kingdoms. So if a new species of bacteria has evolved in this experiment, how would we really know?

  3. Bjørn Østman
    August 16, 2013

    Mike, you’re right that the Biological Species Concept (which defines species as reproductively isolated groups) really doesn’t make sense to use for bacteria. But there are other definitions, like the Ecological Species Concept (Van Valen, 1976), which defines a species as a group in an isolated niche – having a different way of life than other groups. This ties in with Hardin’s Principle of Competitive Exclusion, which states that if two populations are close in their niche, then one of them will eventually go to extinction. Consequently, if they can coexist – e.g., by using different resources – then we can call them different species. For more species definitions, check out John Wilkins: http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2006/10/01/a-list-of-26-species-concepts/

  4. Sean
    August 16, 2013

    @Mike, as Darwin pointed out, the term “species” is simply one of convenience. It’s just a handy way of talking about a population that, while very homogeneous in its way, still has a lot of internal diversity. Genetics makes “species” a much more nebulous concept, especially with bacteria for the reasons you point out. The ongoing debate seems to be on whether a bacterial species is best defined by phenotypic or genotypic traits, or what amalgam of the two makes for the most convenient and useful description of a population. And then there’s the problem of evolutionary history: the kingdom is so vast, and so diverse, that we don’t presently have enough information to work with, in a sense. Our sample groups are still very limited, so establishing deep evolutionary relationships is problematic. (At least, this is my lay understanding of it.)

    Or here, I found this (kinda lengthy) article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764935/?report=classic

  5. Shana
    August 16, 2013

    mike, bacteria do not require sexual genetic exchange to replicate and divide but there are very many ways that gain and lose genes besides plasmid exchange. Some are naturally competent and will take up foreign exogenous DNA, others conjugate through pili structures and this exchange may occur not only within the same species but across species and even across genuses. In this experiment the offspring exhibiting a beneficial mutation isn’t necessarily a ‘new species’ but a new species variant. Species are determined by 16s ribosomal RNA examination because the genes that
    generate ribosomal RNA (a part of the prokaryotic replication machinery) are found in all bacteria while housekeeping genes and trait specific genes may or may not be present in all bacteria. For instance, in this study, fla genes which influence the production of flagella have undergone a mutation in which multiple copies of the gene are expressed rather than a single copy. However, that event happened at the locus only concerned with the production of flagella and not in the genes that determine the organism’s ribosomal RNA composition. I generate mutants in Vibrio vulnificus in my lab, but I focus on genes involved in capsule formation and biosynthesis, therefore my daughter cells are still V. Vulnificus but they are different variants depending on the heritable traits I have encouraged by expressing certain genes on plasmids or silencing genomic expression by transposon mutagenesis. Molecular biology and bacterial genetics are fascinating and if you are truly interested in learning more, may I suggest finding a used copy of Brock’s Microbiology online. Xoxo

  6. Austin Drews
    August 16, 2013

    Creationists often form their own skewed definitions of evolution so they can claim it has never happened. Evolution is simply change in the genes of populations of organisms over successive generations. It doesn’t have to be drastic morphological change (like a new finger or eye), calling it something else (“adaptation,” “mutation,” “patterning”) won’t change the fact that it is evolution, and it certainly doesn’t mean a dog giving birth to a cat, a monkey giving birth to a human, or any other such nonsense.

  7. Suri
    August 16, 2013

    A ‘change of kind’ as suggested by the religious crowd would actually be evidece against evolution and for an intelligent designer.

  8. Rdizzie
    August 16, 2013

    What I would love to see is these bacteria “joining” together and mutating their genes to allow 2 or more to tie themselves together with those extra tails and take on different functions and share the work load so both can survive. I don’t know if I worded that right for everyone to catch my drift. But I mean each cell taking on separate functions so that both can survive, example, one keeps the tails the other eats, though not limited to these two functions. I just think if they do that in the laboratory it would take understanding evolution to new understandings.

    On to the “they are still bacteria” argument, and let me qualify what follows with me saying I will be the first to admit I do not remotely understand evolution I get the gist of it however, I can sort of sympathize with this statement. To me what I understand about evolution via natural selection is that it favors the most successful mutations. Now it is arguable that bacteria are the most varied and successful life form known. Why then would a bacteria evolve beyond that? Sure they can take new mutations such as more tails to make them more successful but I mean leaving the single cell form so to speak. I read a study that was done in Norway if I am not mistaken done with a small town isolated from most outside influences where they claimed that genetic mutations could take hold in a single generation. This same study cited another done with flies where the genetic mutations took over the entire population in as few as 13 generations. This study if I am not mistaken was in Time Magazine at least where i read it or rather the highlights of it. I tried finding this article again some time back for a school paper and couldn’t locate it, it frustrates me to no end. I am an evolutionary creationist and I would like to understand more about evolution there are just parts I can’t seem to get my teeth into, however maybe new steps in this study will aid with my understanding along with that of others.

    • Shana
      August 16, 2013

      RDizzle, Myxococcus xanthas swarms as individual cells and then aggregates to form a pseudo multicellular body in which certain individuals differentiate to form fruiting bodies.
      Biofilm forming bacteria also aggregate then signal other members to express different genes such as virulence factors. Biofilms can be composed of same species, or different species and genuses… All the things you want to see are already happening. Just no bacteria combining like Voltron to make a dog or other eukaryotic organism as some of Carl’s twitter followers expect.

      • Rdizzie
        August 17, 2013

        thanks for the info. I wasn’t expecting a new animal I just was curious if this is happening in these experiments which is another question you might be able to answer. Is this in the laboratory or in the outside world? And if it is in the lab is it happening with bacteria who never previously acted in this way?

  9. Rdizzie
    August 16, 2013

    To expand on the first paragraph of my above post.
    I forgot to say, and adapt their reproduction to include both cells.

  10. Kudzu
    August 16, 2013

    I think an objection that many have to studies like this is that it’s not evolution ‘enough’. An objection to evolution is that mutation cannot increase the total information content of a genome, only change what is there. (This overlooks gene duplication and such.)

    As such studies like this are seen as mere ‘tinkering'; not making a new watch but simply fiddling with the hands. The tails can then be rationalized as simply realizing potential that was already there in the same way that the ancestral dog had all the potential coat colors we see today in it. (In theory.)

    What would overcome this would be documentation of the evolution of a new trait ‘from scratch'; which has already been seen in the famous citrate eating bacteria experiment. This would be unlikely to change critics’ minds as objection would then move on to the source of the ‘new’ trait. (Contamination? Just an alteration of an existing enzyme? Therefore not evolution.)

    @Rdizzie: Yeast cells have been made to adopt multicellularity: http://www.nature.com/news/yeast-suggests-speedy-start-for-multicellular-life-1.9810

    The problem bacteria face in evolving ‘upward’ (so to speak) is the principle of ‘dead men’s shoes'; it is far more difficult for a species to adapt to a niche if it is occupied than if it is empty. Any bacterial species trying to evolve to multicellularity would also have to compete with existing and well adapted multicellular species. It is far ‘easier’ simply to remain unicellular and take advantage of niches that it is already closely adapted to.

  11. Nate
    August 16, 2013

    “…I often hear ****WHEN**** I write about experimental evolution…”

    “I have gotten some negative comments that echo an old refrain I often hear I write about experimental evolution.”

    [CZ: Thanks. Fixed.]

  12. Dan Gerhards
    August 17, 2013

    Bacteria make up a whole domain. If bacteria are a single kind, then plants, animals, and fungi are all one kind as well. That’s my response to this nonsense.

  13. DaveG
    August 17, 2013

    Carl, I admire your (and PZ’s et al) resolve and infinite patience with these arguers. If we heathens evolved an immunity to engaging with these clowns, or better yet the super-power to permanently enlighten them, would they accept that as evolution?

  14. Shana
    August 17, 2013

    RDizzle yes, this happens in the real world outside of a lab. Myxococcus species are found all over the world, from under refrigerators to the Russian tundra. :) organisms adapt to their environment and to occupy new niches for food or protection. Selective pressure is one heck of a motivator for genetic rearrangement.

    • Rdizzie
      August 17, 2013

      Thanks Shana. Again though I think it would be an amazing breakthrough when it is happening in these experiments. I think if we can study how these organisms might adapt to use many cells to be more productive in a controlled environment and watching it happen would do amazing things to understanding life itself. While we study life all the time no one knows how it gets that spark. Because we can take all the chemicals that makes up a given life form and mix them together but something is missing, I think understanding how life evolves on this scale might help answer that question.

  15. zmil
    August 17, 2013

    My one problem with this paper -and it’s a very good paper- is that they don’t really present evidence that these are de novo mutations. As far as I can tell these were not clonal populations, and thus it’s possible that the mutations that produced the hyperswarmers were part of the pre-existing variation in the initial inoculum. The likelihood of this could be calculated, but they don’t say how many bacteria were seeded onto the plates initially, nor do they give estimated populations for each generation. The fact that they discovered multiple different types of mutations does give some strength to the hypothesis, as does the fact that in most of the populations, IIRC, only one mutation was present. But that’s weak evidence at best.

    Now obviously point mutations like these could and at some point did arise, but if it were a matter of preexisting varition, it does lead to questions about the convergent evolution part of the observations. That is, it is still clearly a form of convergent evolution, but it is far less surprising that each population would follow the same evolutionary path if they already had the mutants ready and waiting to step up to the plate. It is also interesting to speculate whether this hyperswarming phenotype might have some biological relevance- it seems quite plausible that in certain naturally occurring environmental conditions such mutants would have a selective advantage, and it may even be to the advantage of the species to maintain this variation in the population at a low level, allowing rapid adaptation if such conditions arise.

  16. Unanymous
    August 18, 2013

    Knowing one of the authors: more than half of the initiated populations were clonally isolated first, to ensure there were no pre-existing mutations.

  17. Andrew
    August 18, 2013

    zmil, you base your assertion on what?

    “As far as I can tell these were not clonal populations”

    http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247%2813%2900388-4

    You can read the experiment yourself, they were quite clear that they were using clones, and in their supplimental information PDF include a good deal of information on the strain creation on top of other experimental controls.

    You say “it’s a good paper” but you seem to indicate that they haven’t put thought into a central, fundamental aspect of experimental design when the paper itself makes it clear that they do.

    Therefore, either you are making this statement based on something outside of the paper, or you are making this statement based entirely out of wilful ignorance.

    So I ask you, what do you base this assertion on, because the paper offers ample description of experimental procedure.

    http://download.cell.com/cell-reports/mmcs/journals/2211-1247/PIIS2211124713003884.mmc2.pdf

    It’s open access, read for yourself.

  18. Ronan Quinlan
    August 19, 2013

    Why argue with the mind-numblingly stupid Creationists? No matter what evidence you produce, they have finished evolving their thought processes and have no interest in evidence no matter how strong it my be.
    The only way Creationism should remain in our conversation is to ensure we stop teaching this nonsense to future generations.

  19. JGB
    August 19, 2013

    Two things worth noting, under this rather unique view of what constitutes a new trait, there are no new traits that separate us from chimps. Our brains or only bigger allowing us to do more language and engineering.
    Point 2 HeLa cells, and to a slightly lesser extent the other transmissible cancers show how quickly a completely radical lifeform can evolve.

  20. Jose Fly
    August 19, 2013

    Ronan,

    For me, it’s like going to the zoo. Yeah, I know what a chimp looks like, but I still enjoy watching one real time. Similarly, I know what creationists are going to do, but I still am fascinated to watch someone boldly declare that something doesn’t exist, be shown that something, and then flail around doing everything they can to deny its existence.

    It’s not so much about the science or even creationism, but human behavior.

  21. zmil
    August 19, 2013

    @Andrew

    I read the paper (okay, honestly I skimmed it because nobody actually reads Cell papers, they’re freaking novels), and at no point in the methods/materials or in the SI do I see any indication that the evolution experiments were started from clonal populations (by which I mean, specifically, straight from a single colony onto your swarming plates). It’s very possible that I missed something, and I’d be grateful if you could point out the spot where they clarify this. If Unanymous is right, they did do this for at least some of these experiments, but I really am not seeing it stated anywhere in the paper.

    As for why I state it’s a good paper, it is a good paper, regardless of this particular detail, because it’s a freaking cool result with potentially interesting implications. We know that the mutations occurred after they created the strains, and even if there were months of passaging between strain creation and the evolutionary experiments they were probably reduced to a single clone on multiple occasions.

    Is it a great paper? No, I wouldn’t say so. Even if I’m wrong about the clonality, they don’t provide enough information about the population size to satisfy the population geneticist in me. I want to know how fast these mutations arose, and how this compares to the base mutation rate in this species. They specify a 1/1500 bottleneck at each passage, but I couldn’t find any data on the size of the population they’re bottlenecking, which makes that number not super useful. It’s conceivable that we’re dealing with a mutation hotspot, which would be *fascinating.*

    Also, I don’t get the impression the authors are evolutionary biologists by trade, so I’m willing to give them a pass on a few details that might not occur to a molecular microbiologist. We’ll get the rest of the story soon enough, now that it’s published. Better to get the data out there rather than force the authors to produce the “perfect paper.”

    • Rdizzie
      August 19, 2013

      Why are cancer researchers playing “evolution” science anyways. See this is why I do not donate to these causes any more. Never has so much money gone into something with so little results and still get massive funding. This experiment has nothing to do with cancer. I change my mind on it, the researchers of this paper should be tried and jailed for fraud. They did not even bother to mention cancer in the paper.

  22. zmil
    August 19, 2013

    @Rdizzie

    Er…what? First, Xavier is not a cancer researcher, he’s in a computational biology department and appears to focus heavily on bacterial behavior.

    Second, if you’re talking about the Sloan-Kettering center, they’re much more than a single focus cancer research institute, they investigate general cell biology and basic molecular biology, among other things, because these are extremely useful in understanding cancer and other diseases, leading to…

    …Thirdly, basic biology is *extremely* important to understanding cancer, and evolution is more important than most areas of study. Why? Because cancer evolves. Not, for the most part, over long periods of time, but within a given individual. A tumor is a population of rapidly growing, highly mutated and typically genetically unstable cells, under various strong selective pressures, from host immune system, from its own growth, and most importantly for understanding cancer treatments, from the anticancer agents themselves.

    One of the primary reasons chemotherapy treatments fail is when they manage to kill off most, but not all of the tumor cells, because a tiny percentage of the cells contain a mutation that provides resistance to the treatment. Suddenly, they’re far more fit than everyone else, and they will grow like gangbusters and you’re back at square one. Understanding evolutionary processes is vital to designing treatment regimes that will avoid evolution of drug resistance, and is helpful in designing drugs that will be harder to develop resistance against in the first place.

    Also, how does one respond to a specific comment? I see people doing it but I don’t see a button or anything…

    • Rdizzie
      August 19, 2013

      You have to click the reply button from your email when and if you follow comments. The place is called ‘Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center ‘. The evolution of bacteria has nothing to do with cancer. Cancer is not a bacteria is is an affliction of cells within the human body (yes I know it afflicts other species). It is fraud, how can you justify almost a century of research with this? You cannot. And this guy isn’t giving these bacteria cancer to see how they evolve. I am no expert but I can tell when someone is trying to shine me, and these people are shinning you. The place is Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center , the name says it all. And I guarantee they take donations from people to fund this crap who wanted to donate to save a life. Now I call it crap not because it isn’t interesting because evidence suggests FRAUD.

      • zmil
        August 19, 2013

        The principles of evolution still apply, whether the cells are bacterial or mammalian in origin. “Cancer evolution” is not fundamentally different from “bacteria evolution.” As for the funding of this project, it’s in the paper: it was funded by a foundation that expressly funds microbial research, and the NIH, which funds anything even vaguely health related. No ill-gotten cancer donation gains here. For the most part, research is not funded by donations; the vast majority of money comes in through the government.

        I’ll just respond to your other comment here. Why so few cures with so much funding? Here’s the answer: no one really knows. Big pharma is scared shitless because they’ve spent the last two decades pouring more and more money down more and more empty wells, and they don’t know what to do. Each new drug is more expensive than the last, and takes longer to find.

        The NIH seems to think that the problem is that the drug companies are too dumb to find drugs and so clearly they (the NIH) must save the day by spending more money on “translational” research rather than the basic science which has so clearly failed us. Not to diss Francis Collins, who seems like a nice guy, but this is just silly.

        The most likely answer? Science is hard, and the more science you do, the harder it gets, because you’ve already answered all the easy questions.

        Thanks for the tip on how to reply. Hope this works…

        • Rdizzie
          August 19, 2013

          Thanks for clearing up the part about evolution. I did not know that. And if you read some of my comments I will say when I don’t know something. But I saw that and it made me think of companies (yes companies) like the pink ribbon one who pays gigantic salaries to these people that work for them and only a fraction of their money goes to actual research. Now I don’t know how this company is funded, but when the words “Cancer Research” are used in a business on might go right to “charities”. Now that was my mistake, and I was wrong. But it does not change my mind on monetary donations to cancer research charities.

          Now the part about science being hard, yes this is true I won’t argue that. But at the same time it is used as a cop out, let me explain. Take Dr. Elrich (sorry if I spelled this wrong) for example and his work with tuberculosis, syphilis, diphtheria, and others. He proves a cure is hard to find, but what he also proves is that Profit and Medicine do not belong together. Medicine is not a business, it is peoples lives. Drugs are expensive, they are also usually understudied and released prematurely for profit. Again people get hurt for profit. I look at other disease and I see a plethora of options, but to me there is no rational argument to keep funding cancer research when we are getting 0 results. I also can not rationally believe that there have been 0 results. As I stated above, I don’t believe there is some magic cure all out there that the government hides from us, but rationally it has some merit. When you compare cancer research to others. Even AIDS, maybe no “cure” but many people who have it can be tested right now and have it not show up. I have heard they are not cured however, I don’t know. But the fact remains that this disease which is arguably just as complex and mutates just as much as cancer can at least offer more than the same options we have had for the last 100 years.

          On a side note. I have seen a lot of claims that urine therapy cures (yes cures) cancer. Maybe I am asking the wrong person, do you know of any scientific value to this? Or would you say some people just get well and the urine has nothing to do with it? Just curious. And thank you for the information, I may have let my passion slip into a place it did not belong.

          • zmil
            August 19, 2013

            “0 results”? Where are you getting that from? We’ve made enormous advances in cancer treatment. Childhood leukemia used to be a death sentence, now we can cure 90% of cases. We have targeted therapies, actually designed using the much vaunted and often oversold principles of rational drug design -not many, to be honest, but a few. We’ve got a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, we’ve hugely improved early detection, and even chemotherapy, that stone age bludgeon of a treatment, has seen great improvements -the first generation of chemotherapeutic drugs were based off *mustard gas,* for crying out loud- we have better drugs, and we have better regimens for those drugs. We understand that tumors evolve drug resistance, and thus have developed multi-drug chemotherapy to prevent that resistance from developing.

            As for comparing it to AIDS, well, that’s the problem, you *can’t* compare it to AIDS. Why? Because, and this has been said a thousand times before but it will have to be said a million times more I think, there is no such thing as *a* single “cure for cancer,” because cancer is a catch all term for hundreds of different diseases. Talking about a “cure for cancer” is like talking about a “cure for viruses;” each virus, and each cancer, is unique, and requires a different approach. To say “we’ve solved AIDS, why not cancer?” is basically like saying “we’ve solved childhood leukemia, why haven’t we cured every single type of infectious disease too?”

            I won’t speak about profits and medical research, because I’m beginning to wonder myself if the days of funding research through capital investment are numbered. I don’t care about questions of morality, I just want the most effective way to move science and medicine forward.

          • Shana
            August 20, 2013

            To say that there have been Zero advancements in cancer research and treatment is just absolutely false in the extreme. Not understanding the science, technology, and medical applications of research is one thing, but to just dismiss decades of research and millions of lives saved with ever evolving treatments is willful ignorance of fact. Google Scholar can provide you with years of reading material on the subject, but you may need to start with intro cancer biology, microbiology, genetics, and molecular biology textbooks.

  23. zmil
    August 19, 2013

    I suppose it’s only fair to note that my research is funded by the National Cancer Institute, but is only tangentially related to cancer, and quite probably will never be even partly responsible for any advances in cancer treatments, so I might have a wee conflict of interest…

    …but seriously basic research is really important, and it’s essentially impossible to know where the breakthroughs that lead to new treatments will come from. All the funding institutions can do is do their best to promote solid, foundational, but groundbreaking science; they can try to figure out what is likely to be medically relevant, but in the end the quality of the science must decide who gets money. Well, that and the quality of the grant writing, but that’s a rant for another day…

    • Rdizzie
      August 19, 2013

      @zmil. That I can respect, an upfront knowledge. Now I no longer donate to cancer centers. I still give blood and plasma but no longer money. I find it impossible to believe after nearly 100 years we can still only offer the same 2 treatments.

      Now yes I can respect that many breakthroughs happen at random or even by accident. But as I said above it seems like funds for cancer research are being used for experiments not involved with treating cancer and I didn’t mean to attack the author of this paper specifically but this happens throughout the field. It makes a person with a rational mind wonder why? Why can trillions over the years produce nothing to be frank? What is happening behind the scenes, it lends credit to the people who say there is a cure they just don’t want us to have it. That being said I should be fair and I do find this interesting it just heated me to see that, is all.

  24. Carl Zimmer
    August 20, 2013

    I missed the exchange about why this research on bacteria is going on at a cancer research center yesterday. There are two reasons–

    1. Cancer cells dividing and mutating inside a tumor have a lot of similarities to bacteria growing in a Petri dish, including the capacity for evolution. It’s possible to test out ideas about cancer evolution on bacteria, which grow faster and more easily.

    2. Cancer patients are especially prone to bacteria infections because of their weakened immune systems. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common pathogen in cancer hospitals.

  25. cb2
    August 20, 2013

    @Rdizzie

    If you want to learn more about cancer treatment and research, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee provides a very thorough history of both.

    It is true that many of fundraising bodies that raise money for cancer research are not what they seem (like the pink ribbon campaign that you mentioned), but I think that is failing of those bodies and not a reflection on the research itself.

    Even with more honest charities though, money may go to labs not directly studying cancer in humans, but the importance of basic research cannot be forgotten in the search for disease treatments. These basic research labs that get funding from cancer charities will instead look into the fundamental principles of the way cells work which may (very likely) be useful background as a basis for cancer treatments. This may be looking at mechanisms that control how much a cell divides, or deal with damage to DNA or are involved in a cell transitioning into becoming motile (an important transition when cancer cells metastasize which are often what lead to cancer deaths). In fact, I think (just my opinion here) it is a lack of basic research that has slowed down advances in cancer treatment. A lot of money was thrown at try to find treatments before much of the basic cell biology of cancer was very well understood. Trying to run before we could walk.

    Cancer is essentially a loss of control of cell division: a mutation in a cell of the body (ex: caused by exposure to radiation) means that some mechanism is broken and the cell divides uncontrollably. What makes cancer different from the work in tuberculosis, syphilis, diphtheria you mentioned is that cancer cells are your body’s own cells so it’s extremely difficult to target just them versus healthy cells (hence broad treatments like chemotherapy that will kill any rapidly dividing cells and have lots of adverse affects). Even today it is difficult to target treatments to mutated cells because every patient’s cancer is different since it arose from independent mutation events that probably mutated different things. On top of that, cancer cells are particularly prone to getting even more mutations so that even within a single tumour, the cancer cells will have different mutations. This makes it difficult to figure out which are the mutations that caused the cancer and should be targeted vs the mutations that just happened but have very little effect on tumour growth/survival.
    :)

    • Rdizzie
      August 21, 2013

      Thank you for your read suggestion. I will look into that. As far as looking into unrelated fields, as I said many comments ago it is being upfront about it that bothers me. And I also said that maybe this company is. I saw a statement that got me heated because I have issues with the way some research on the subject is run. That being said, I jumped the gun because I didn’t know for sure I acted on emotions. However this doesn’t negate my feelings on the topic as a whole.

      “I think (just my opinion here) it is a lack of basic research that has slowed down advances in cancer treatment”
      You might very well be right. If that is what it takes then more power to them. However it is the fact that we offer the same 2 treatments that upsets me. Yes we have improved them some. That is good, but these treatments are some times just as dangerous as the disease or even more so in some cases. That is what really bothers me. So maybe you are right in that the basics need to be hammered out first. Also as I said before there may be no cure for cancer. But a person with cancer suffers enough without complicating it with dangerous treatments there has to be something (even if there is no cure) that we can do besides turning them into opiate addicts in part because of the treatment we offer them. A 30 year old opiate addict is bad enough, but to see a 3 year old in withdraw is just heart crushing. The every one I know who had cancer except my dad has died from it. 6 people, my dad has had skin cancer 23 times now. There is nothing new they offer that they didn’t 20 years ago when my dad first got cancer. They just tweak it a bit. It makes me question where all that money goes for very little results.

  26. amphiox
    August 20, 2013

    Of course, at the root of the “they’re still bacteria” argument is the truth that EVERYTHING is still bacteria (and archaea, if you want to be exact).

    All of us eukaryotes are basically one special type of biofilm consisting of several types of symbiotic bacteria and archaea.

  27. amphiox
    August 20, 2013

    Pseudomonas aeroginosa is a major problem in many, many hospitals. In fact it is one of the so-called “superbugs”, being resistant to many antibiotics. There was even a case, IIRC, of a Pseudomonas outbreak traced to a contaminated anti-septic solution bottle, where the Pseudomonas was happily growing INSIDE the anti-bacterial anti-septic solution.

  28. Monado
    August 20, 2013

    Eight or nine generations is enough for butterflies under artificial selection to develop large eyespots or no eyespots.

  29. Gerry
    August 21, 2013

    “Opponents of evolution often like to decree what evolution really is. That way, when scientists study evolution, they can declare, “That’s not evolution.”

    I believe it is quite reasonable to define what evolution is and is not. You, like most evolutionists, like to keep the definition rubbery so as to allow anything and everything to be defined as evolution. A perfect example is the fact bacteria remaining bacteria is constantly presented as sound evidence for evolution, when in fact it’s convincing evidence of nothing more than variation and adaptation, an action against which no one argues. When this obvious fact is pointed out, the usual ‘you don’t understand evolution’ reply is trotted out. It would be laughable, if it wasn’t so sad.

    [CZ: So...adaptation is not evolution? No one argues that adaptations can emerge through mutation and selection? I'd love to see some evidence that creationists accept this as an "obvious fact."]

  30. Gerry
    August 21, 2013

    “So…adaptation is not evolution?”

    No, it’s not, it’s exactly what the term implies, the adaptation of an organism to its environment. The organism does not become a fundamentally different organism which is what evolution demands to justify the claim of descent from a common ancestor. That this process leads to bacteria becoming non-bacteria is 100%, unadulterated conjecture, nothing more.

    • DaveG
      August 21, 2013

      @Gerry,
      Someone more qualified than I am will be along shortly to eviscerate your claim. In the meantime, please define “fundamentally” different in an unambiguous manner, and as Carl said please provide your theory.

  31. DaveG
    August 21, 2013

    I’ll clarify: please tell us how bacteria become non-bacteria.

  32. Gerry
    August 21, 2013

    “Someone more qualified than I am will be along shortly to eviscerate your claim.”

    Well, now you have me worried.

    As for defining fundamentally, it is to most people self explanatory, but to evolutionists, everything is open to manipulation. My statement was in no way ambiguous.

    “please tell us how bacteria become non-bacteria.”

    That’s the claim of evolution, not mine. If you’re going to promote the idea of descent from a single common ancestor, you’re going to have to at some point demonstrate A becoming non-A. There is simply no denying that fact. If, as you seem to believe, you and a pine cone have a common ancestor, a few things will have to have fundamentally changed over time. There would need to be billions of instances where A became non-A. However, I will not be holding my breath waiting for evidence of these episodes from you, or your more qualified companion.

    • DaveG
      August 21, 2013

      Gerry, before I go there please tell me if you’re some stripe of creationist. If you are, I won’t waste my time since you won’t listen anyway.

      If you are a creationist, I suspect you’d say that all species were created “as-is”, and allowed to subsequently modify just a little, by some Creator, rendering the pillars of Evolutionary Theory moot.

      A few years ago, a very wise high school teacher in Florida told his creationist students who rejected evolutionary theory that they didn’t have to believe it, but they had to understand it to pass the class.

      Do you understand descent with modification? Ring species?

    • Kudzu
      August 22, 2013

      I think a problem that occurs in discussions such as this is macroevolution vs microevolution. Many stripes of religion including many creationists agree with microevolution, adaption and modification and so on. But they often do not view this as ‘evolution’ for the simple fact that in the public consciousness evolution and religion are opposed. (As well as ‘evolution’ tending to be closely associated with other ‘atheistic’ theories.) To them calling this evolution would be tantamount to accepting abiogenesis.

      Conversely many in the scientific community cannot understand why many deny evolution in this sense. This is similar to the controversy and misunderstanding surrounding the word ‘theory’ and quantum mechanics, both of which are often misconstrued as meaning anything science says can be disregarded.

      There is a definite differences between the mechanism of evolution, with its mutations and natural selection, and the ramifications of that mechanism, in the same way that young earth creationists will agree that erosion exists but disagree that it would take millions of years to mold the grand canyon.

  33. Jared
    August 22, 2013

    The fine thinkers at Evolution News & Views have laid a severe intellectual beatdown on Carl Zimmer at the following link: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/08/theyre_still_ju075731.html

    I tend to agree with them, as all educated, sane people would. Carl Zimmer’s pulling the all-too-common Darwinist trick of grossly over-extrapolating from his data to reach conclusions he desperately wants to be true.

    Remember, ladies, gentlemen, and Darwinists, what needs explaining in biology is (a) the origin of life (and the origin of the evolutionary process), and (b) the engineering of every trait of every biological organism, past and present. There is nothing in this research, nor any other non-intelligence-inferring research, that shows blind nature having anywhere near such creative power. In fact, quite the opposite has been demonstrated time and time again: Nature’s creative power is very limited, making for a shockingly inept designer-mimic.

    I understand how important Darwinism is to all of you, and how it’s your religion, your creation myth, and I’m not here to tell you you’re not allowed to have faith in it. You are. What you’re not allowed to do is call that faith science. It’s not science, it never has been, and it never will be.

    It’s not too late to evolve into the 21st century. Leave your Darwinian faith in the Victorian era where it belongs, and hop aboard the I.D. bandwagon. Considering every new discovery only strengthens design theory, this would be the smart move to make — and the only one which qualifies as science.

  34. DaveG
    August 22, 2013

    Jared,
    You’re right about “shockingly inept designer-mimic”, but do you understand how you just described your God?

    Evolution is NOT a directed process. It’s too funny that you raise the bar so high and consistently fail to provide evidence for your wishful thinking. Do we heathens a favor and just have God reveal himself already. I don’t know how you all survive such epic cognitive dissonance.

    Sorry Carl for highjacking your thread.

  35. Gerry
    August 22, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Do you understand descent with modification? Ring species?”

    Certainly I do. I also realize neither are evidence for the idea of descent from a single common ancestor unless your presuppositions are that such an event in fact occurred.

    Modification occurs, but equines remain equines, canines remain canines, and on and on. For the idea that all life forms descended from a single common ancestor to be true, at some point both had to be something other than canine or equine. That is just basic logic.

    As for creationists not listening, sure there are some, just as there are evolutionists who will not listen. Your error lies in the belief that evidence is only interpreted correctly when it is interpreted in support of evolution. Therefore, you’re convinced that if I would simply listen to you I would have no choice but to accept your position.

    • DaveG
      August 22, 2013

      Your last sentence is true.

      Please stop hiding behind the burden of proof argument and explain the origin of today’s myriad species. I’m not going to challenge your answer, I just want to know what it is.

  36. gil
    August 22, 2013

    but its like compere a self replicat organic car with air conditioner and without. how can this without became with the air condinioner in small steps?

  37. Gerry
    August 22, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Please stop hiding behind the burden of proof argument and explain the origin of today’s myriad species.”

    This is simply typical of evolutionary thinking. That burden is yours, not mine. It’s up to you to provide an answer as to how random mutation and natural selection would be capable of producing the myriad of species we see, and can see existed in the past. Evolution is the one claiming to be able to answer that question via these mechanisms, but fails totally to do so. Instead, it applies conjecture and wishful thinking and believes it has indeed answered the problem. However, it cannot meet the burden of proof which is observation of such an event, nor can it demonstrate or repeat such an event. All it supplies is fruit flies remaining fruit flies, salamanders producing nothing but more salamanders, and bacteria producing only more bacteria. However, what is required by evolutionary thought is the demonstration, observation and repetition of A becoming non-A. This it categorically cannot do, neither in the present, nor in the past via the fossil record.

    You’ve not answered the problem at all. All you’ve done is hide behind the curtain, pull levers and belch out smoke. All the while saying all who disagree with you are ignorant and don’t understand what evolution claims. The sad fact is, evolutionists are the ones who fail to understand the basis of their beliefs and the natural consequences faced by those beliefs when actual science and logic are applied to them.

    So the truth be told, it is not creationists who are hiding from the burden of proof, it is evolutionists. You have identified the enemy, and it is you.

    • Rdizzie
      August 22, 2013

      You are correct sir in saying evolution does not follow the normal scientific method. Part of which is showing repeatable results. Though that is not to say in the future they can not.

      My biggest issue with it is, that natural selection favors the most successful traits, if this is true then we never should have evolved beyond the “single cell” organisms, as these are the most successful, versatile, and abundant life on the planet.

      I call my self an evolutionary creationist, but I have issues with evolution because of these gaps in the whole theory. But it is the current accepted scientific theory so I go along with it because I also believe that God to us to use science to prove His existence. Animals do mutate, some for the better some for the worse. And these so called “bottle necks” in evolution that science talks about rationally means there should be many more examples of A turning to not A, in your words. Because these extinctions lowered the number of species on the planet and means that more that 1 time a very few A’s had to become a whole lot of not-A’s. So rational thought makes you wonder where are they all at? Maybe these did not fossilize or maybe one day a chicken came out of the T-Rex egg, I simply do not know.

      • Caveat
        August 22, 2013

        I’m a layman but I’ll take that challenge. Ring species show how drift makes it impossible for related species to reproduce. Human and Chimp genomes are nearly identical. Morphology and the fossil record show how body plans change over time. Just a few examples of phenomena that support the theory.

        You are free to reject this, but it’s sad that you do. I’m done arguing.

        Re microbes, your point is irrelevant. The perfect fitness of one domain doesn’t prevent divergence.

  38. Gerry
    August 22, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Your last sentence is true.”

    Yes, my last sentence is true, however, it is not correct.

  39. Steve Proulx
    August 23, 2013

    Carl, what is just wrong -headed is the idea that the mutation conceded an advantage to the hypers over the non-hypers. This is an illusion. Bacterial colonies act as a single organism so there is no competition between individual bacterial cells. What is happening is the bacterial colony transforming or renewing itself; producing new modified cells and shedding the old ones.

    Clearly, It is supporting evidence for Shapiro’s concept of genetic engineering.

  40. Joe G
    August 24, 2013

    If all evolutionists have is to throw eons of time around, then they have left science behind and are going on faith only.

    That said there aren’t any examples of microevolution that we can take and extrapolate to macroevolution, ie the evolution of new body plans requiring new body parts.

  41. Joe G
    August 24, 2013

    Even YECs accept adaptations occur. YEC does NOT argue for the fixity of species- that is a strawman.

    Evolution has several meanings. The meanings of evolution, from Darwinism, Design and Public Education:

    1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature

    2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population

    3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.

    4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.

    5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.

    6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

    The debate isn’t as black & white as saying it is evo #6 against IDists, Creationists and theistic evolutionists. However it is obvious that evo #6 is what is being debated.

    (Theistic evolutionists are a different breed. They don’t seem to acknowledge that evo #6 is what is being taught in our public school system. And therefore don’t appear to understand the issue. The TE’s I have debated with tell me that humans were an intended outcome of the evolutionary process, which is OK for evo #5 but defies evo #6. IOW TE’s are closet IDists.)

    Creationists go with 1-4 (above), with the change in 4 being built-in responses to environmental cues or organism direction as the primary mechanism, for allele frequency change, culled by various selection processes (as well as random effects/ events/ choice of not to mate/ unable to find a mate). The secondary mechanism would be random variations or mutations culled by similar processes. IOW life’s diversity evolved from the originally Created Kind, humans included. Science should therefore be the tool/ process with which we determine what those kinds were. Just as Carolus Linneaus attempted to do some 200 years ago.

    see also The Current Status of Baraminology

    With Creation vs. “Evolution #6″ the 4 main debating points are clear:

    1) The starting point of the evolutionary process. (What was (were) the founding population(s)?)

    2) The phenotypic & morphological plasticity allowed/ extent the evolutionary process can take a population (do limits exist?).

    3) The apparent direction the evolutionary process took to form the history of life. (ie from “simpler” bacteria-like organisms to complex metazoans)

    4) The mechanism for evolution.

    With ID vs. Evo #6 it is mainly about the mechanism- IDists go with evolution 1-5, with the Creation change to 4 plus the following caveat in 5: Life’s diversity was brought about via the intent of a design. The initial conditions, parameters, resources and goal was pre-programmed as part of an evolutionary algorithm designed to bring forth complex metazoans, as well as leave behind the more “simple” viruses, prokaryotes and single-celled eukaryotes.

    IDists understand that if life didn’t arise from non-living matter via some blind watchmaker-type process, there is no reason to infer its subsequent diversity arose soley due to those type of processes (point 1 up top).

    What does the data say? Well there isn’t any data that demonstrates bacteria can “evolve” into anything but bacteria. Therefore anyone who accepts evolution 5 or 6 has some splaining to do. Preferably splainations with scientific merit.

    Throwing time at an issue does not splain anything.

  42. secret2
    August 27, 2013

    This is for Gerry, Joe G, Jared and people alike:

    – Do you understand the concept of ‘species’ as is used in the context of modern biology?

    – If you have used/are going to use to term ‘kind’, what exactly constitutes a ‘kind’ of organism?

    – True or false, most mutations are harmful or even fatal to the hosts.

    – If some mutation is permitted for across each generation, what stops further mutation at the ‘kind boundary’? What would the boundary be and what mechanism is there to stop further mutation?

    – If you go back 500 years in time with a modern duck, would it be able to breed with the historical duck? What about 5000 years? 50000 years?

  43. amphiox
    August 27, 2013

    Rdizzie, here you go:
    http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/01/researchers-evolve-a-multicellular-yeast-in-the-lab-in-2-months/

    Evolution in an experiment of multicellularity in a unicellular yeast, complete with the development of rudimentary cell specialization.

    • Rdizzie
      August 27, 2013

      Hey thanks for that. It was a very interesting read and they did get a multi-celled yeast to evolve. But this isn’t quite what I was talking about and it may have been my fault for not conveying it well. Quote from the article
      “But that’s about as far as these experiments went. It wasn’t clear how these clusters of cells formed, whether they were genetically related, or whether they engaged in any sort of specialized behavior. More significantly, it wasn’t obvious whether these clusters took a sort of “every cell for itself” approach to reproduction.”
      That guy nailed it, this is what I want to see; all the stuff they said was not clear. Again though thank you for the link it was a very interesting read.

  44. Gerry
    August 27, 2013

    Secret 2,

    “Do you understand the concept of ‘species’ as is used in the context of modern biology?”

    As there is no real consensus on the definition of a species, probably not.

    “If you have used/are going to use to term ‘kind’, what exactly constitutes a ‘kind’ of organism?”

    Canines would be a ‘kind’, as would equines, etc.

    “True or false, most mutations are harmful or even fatal to the hosts.”

    False, most mutations are benign. Rarely they provide an advantage to the organism, but that advantage is more often than not accompanied by a loss of some kind. Some mutations are harmful or even fatal, however. The types of mutations necessary to accomplish the claims of evolution would need to be embryonic mutations. Embryonic mutations are fatal to the organism.

    “If some mutation is permitted for across each generation, what stops further mutation at the ‘kind boundary’? What would the boundary be and what mechanism is there to stop further mutation?”

    Observation clearly indicates there is a boundary. If that boundary is not identifiable or understandable at this time it does not mean such a boundary does not exist. Mutations never cease, but that is not evidence for descent from a common ancestor. It’s only evidence for the fact mutations persist. That continued mutations leads to new body plans and by extension new life forms is based on nothing more than conjecture and unsupported extrapolation.

    “If you go back 500 years in time with a modern duck, would it be able to breed with the historical duck? What about 5000 years? 50000 years?”

    You’ll never know will you?

  45. 4u1e
    August 27, 2013

    “Canines would be a ‘kind’, as would equines, etc.”

    OK. So what kind would miacids e.g. Tapocyon (http://www.sdnhm.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/fossil-mysteries/fossil-field-guide-a-z/tapocyon/) fall into? Cats or dogs?

  46. Gerry
    August 27, 2013

    4u1e,

    “So what kind would miacids,…”

    As there are none around for closer study, we may never really know for sure. However, the fact we may never know for sure is not evidence for them being in the state of transition or an evolutionary fore bearer of both canines and felines. To argue otherwise is simply to apply more conjecture and unfounded extrapolation.

    • DaveG
      August 27, 2013

      4u1e, stop feeding the troll!

      I suppose we shouldn’t believe that iron exists since no-one we know has visited a supernova core to watch its creation.

      Gerry should get to the punchline: I don’t know, therefore God.

  47. DaveG
    August 27, 2013

    …well, maybe “supernova” should be “star”.

  48. secret2
    August 27, 2013

    “As there is no real consensus on the definition of a species, probably not.”

    Is there not?

    “Canines would be a ‘kind’, as would equines, etc.”

    Are these kinds static? And can you consistently classify every organism into one and only one kind? The nature doesn’t work like Pokemon, or baby word book. Species is a continuum.

    “Observation clearly indicates there is a boundary. If that boundary is not identifiable or understandable at this time it does not mean such a boundary does not exist. Mutations never cease, but that is not evidence for descent from a common ancestor. It’s only evidence for the fact mutations persist. That continued mutations leads to new body plans and by extension new life forms is based on nothing more than conjecture and unsupported extrapolation.”

    That’s a weasel response. What and where is the claimed boundary? What mechanism is there to enforce such a boundary? You have not provided any viable answer.

    “You’ll never know will you?”

    Not the the strictest sense. What I suggested is a thought experiment that cannot be performed, but we do know what happens when organisms with dissimilar genetic makeup try to reproduce. Once again, species is a continuum.

  49. Gerry
    August 27, 2013

    DaveG,

    “4u1e, stop feeding the troll!”

    How are you doing Dave? I’m still waiting for that guy who is much smarter than you whom you said would come along and eviscerate my arguments. Should I keep waiting, or are they a figment of your imagination as well?

    As for your comment regards iron, pretty pathetic really.

    • DaveG
      August 28, 2013

      Well, my prediction failed. Sorry about that.

  50. Gerry
    August 28, 2013

    Secret 2,

    “Are these kinds static?”

    That creationists insist they are static is a straw man argument. I do not personally know any creationist who believes they are static. However, not being static is not evidence for limitless change.

    “That’s a weasel response. What and where is the claimed boundary? What mechanism is there to enforce such a boundary? You have not provided any viable answer.”

    You don’t read well, do you. I said it’s obvious from observation that such a limit exists. Every animal breeder will attest to that. I also said that not being able to identify or understand said barrier is not proof it does not exist. I’m sure you believe in the existence of a common ancestor, how’s it going identifying that?

    “we do know what happens when organisms with dissimilar genetic makeup try to reproduce.”

    And that is evidence for evolution how?

  51. Gerry
    August 28, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Well, my prediction failed.”

    Well, at least you can take solace in the fact that failed predictions are a common occurrence in evolutionary thinking.

  52. secret2
    August 28, 2013

    Dear Gerry,

    “You don’t read well, do you. I said it’s obvious from observation that such a limit exists. Every animal breeder will attest to that. I also said that not being able to identify or understand said barrier is not proof it does not exist. I’m sure you believe in the existence of a common ancestor, how’s it going identifying that?”

    Good lord, of course we know that cross breeding can hit boundary, that is a completely different thing than the supposed mutation boundary that you are trying to claim. Do you see the difference?

  53. Gerry
    August 28, 2013

    secret2,

    “that is a completely different thing than the supposed mutation boundary that you are trying to claim. Do you see the difference?”

    Why don’t you explain the difference for us? I’d be interested to know how random mutations could construct new body plans where intelligent genetic manipulations cannot. So, please, inform us.

  54. secret2
    August 28, 2013

    Gerry,

    “Why don’t you explain the difference for us? I’d be interested to know how random mutations could construct new body plans where intelligent genetic manipulations cannot. So, please, inform us.”

    For you, you mean? First of all do you see that you, intentionally or not, have confused two completely unrelated issue? One is about whether a dog and a cat can reproduce, the answer to which we trivially know as a “no”. The other is about whether a distant ancestor that, if you are to bring it to today, would fail to cross breed with either cat or dog, can evolve into cat and dog.

    Returning to your (yet again) unrelated reply, why did you say that “intelligent genetic manipulations cannot”? That’s simply untrue.

  55. Gerry
    August 28, 2013

    secret2,

    “For you, you mean?”

    No, I mean for everybody here now or who may read this thread in the future.

    “One is about whether a dog and a cat can reproduce, the answer to which we trivially know as a “no”. The other is about whether a distant ancestor that, if you are to bring it to today, would fail to cross breed with either cat or dog, can evolve into cat and dog.”

    What you’re talking about is completely irrelevant to the issue. The question is can random mutation and natural selection produce completely new body plans. Whether a distant ancestor could breed with a modern descendant really has nothing to do with the matter.

    “why did you say that “intelligent genetic manipulations cannot”? That’s simply untrue.”

    Have you got an example of genetic engineering producing a completely new body plan? I’d be interested in seeing it. And please, no fruit flies sporting a useless pair of wings.

  56. secret2
    August 28, 2013

    “What you’re talking about is completely irrelevant to the issue. The question is can random mutation and natural selection produce completely new body plans. Whether a distant ancestor could breed with a modern descendant really has nothing to do with the matter.”

    Great, at least now you are acknowledging that they are two different issues.

    But my comment was not irrelevant. See, something you still don’t get is that each generation would differ from the previous one. But the difference is minute. You don’t see new ‘body plans’ appearing just after two to three generations. But the accumulation of such minute changes can, and do, result in significant and obvious differences over time. And I was asking you what mechanism stops the changes to keep accumulating, you still couldn’t name any.

    “Have you got an example of genetic engineering producing a completely new body plan? I’d be interested in seeing it. And please, no fruit flies sporting a useless pair of wings.”

    Why does that not count? And why distinguish between ‘genetic engineering’ and evolution in nature, when the principles are the same?

  57. Gerry
    August 28, 2013

    secret 2,

    “Great, at least now you are acknowledging that they are two different issues.”

    I was right, you don’t read well. We’ll just move on.

    “See, something you still don’t get is that each generation would differ from the previous one.”

    And this slight difference between successive generations results in you and a pine cone being related?

    “And I was asking you what mechanism stops the changes to keep accumulating, you still couldn’t name any.”

    Okay, we’ll l try this one more time. Perhaps if I type slowly you’ll grasp the argument.

    Observation clearly shows there is a barrier which, it seems, cannot be crossed. Because this barrier is not identified or understood at this time is not evidence it does not exist. All our observation and experience indicates it does exist. Therefore, it is completely moot I cannot identify this barrier for you, it is evident it exists. Your refusal to accept that fact is contrary to the evidence as well as irrelevant.

    “Why does that not count?”

    The fact you have to ask that question only demonstrates you have no grasp of the subject at all.

    Secret 2: “Good lord, of course we know that cross breeding can hit boundary, that is a completely different thing than the supposed mutation boundary that you are trying to claim. Do you see the difference?”

    Secret 2: “Great, at least now you are acknowledging that they are two different issues.”

    Secret 2: “And why distinguish between ‘genetic engineering’ and evolution in nature, when the principles are the same?”

    So, which is it? Want to take some time and think your position through? You seem to be quite unsure as to what you believe.

  58. secret2
    August 28, 2013

    Gerry,

    This is not going anywhere, so this will be my last reply to you.

    You keep saying that “Observation clearly shows there is a barrier [that] cannot be crossed.” There are two possibilities:

    1) You are still thinking cross-breeding, in which case we are wasting our time speaking of completely different issues; or

    2) You are talking about how far mutation can go, in which case the statement is a lie. And you still fail to even speculate about a possible mechanism that could potentially limit further incremental mutation.

    Suppose it is 2) (otherwise we don’t even have to proceed). Then it’s not that “…this barrier is not identified or understood at this time,” it’s quite the opposite. At this time we are positive that no such barrier exists. But you make the bold claim that “[all] our observation and experience indicates it does exist.” Can you provide a couple of examples should that be the case?

    And reaching the end of your previous comment, there is really no contradiction at all. The following 2 positions are completely compatible:

    A) Cross breeding can hit boundary, and it’s a completely different issue than the supposed mutation boundary that some claim;

    B) Mutation (and adaptation) by ‘genetic engineering’ and by evolution in nature share the same mechanism.

    How would there be a contradiction?

    Have a great day.

  59. Gerry
    August 29, 2013

    secret2,

    “This is not going anywhere, so this will be my last reply to you.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m surprised you haven’t run away sooner. Most evolutionists run at the first sign of confrontation.

    “You are still thinking cross-breeding,…”

    It’s you who is confused on this issue, not me. You’re the one contradicting himself as I clearly pointed out in my last post. However, I’m sure, as is usual with evolutionary thinking, you’re completely oblivious to that fact. Cest’ la vie.

    “You are talking about how far mutation can go, in which case the statement is a lie. And you still fail to even speculate about a possible mechanism that could potentially limit further incremental mutation.”

    If the statement is a lie, demonstrate how it is a lie. I won’t be holding my breath, however. What point would there be in speculating about a possible mechanism? It’s obvious something is there, and in time I expect it will be identified. Speculating is simply a waste of time.

    “At this time we are positive that no such barrier exists.”

    Now that’s just plain funny, really. Talk to any animal breeder and tell them no barrier exists. They’ll laugh you out of the room. You’ve still failed to explain how you believe blind random processes would be able to accomplish what intelligent genetic engineering cannot. Again, I won’t be holding my breath. As with all evolutionists, you rely on baseless assertion and expect everyone to accept it as fact.

    “Can you provide a couple of examples should that be the case?”

    Mules and ligers.

    “How would there be a contradiction?”

    You’re the one who was saying there was a difference, remember? Evolutionists are so loose with the truth they easily get lost in the own arguments.

    “Cross breeding can hit boundary, and it’s a completely different issue than the supposed mutation boundary that some claim;”

    Maybe you can explain how it’s different. While you’re at it, maybe you could try to give a somewhat reasonable explanation as to how random mutation and natural selection accomplish the miracles attributed to it. No one has been able to do that in the entire history of evolutionary thinking. Why not be the first?

    I won’t expect a response as you have chosen to run away rather than present a cogent, defendable case. Take care and try to think outside your little box of evolution, you might be surprised what you will find.

  60. Kudzu
    August 29, 2013

    Well that certainly became intense.

  61. Gerry
    August 29, 2013

    Kudzu,

    “Well that certainly became intense.”

    It often does when evolutionists take the approach that all they have to do is show up and they will win the day. They often become flustered when creationists refuse to bow to their interpretations of the evidence. When the fallacies of their reasoning are exposed they usually react negatively, or simply walk away believing those who reject evolution are merely fools anyway so why bother. I’ve seen it 100’s of times, it never surprises me. In fact, I now expect it.

    • DaveG
      August 29, 2013

      Gerry,
      My first to you was my first post on this blog. Please enlighten me with your explanation for speciation, or whatever it is about ET you don’t accept. This is not a challenge, it’s a question.

  62. Gerry
    September 2, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Please enlighten me with your explanation for speciation, or whatever it is about ET you don’t accept.”

    Speciation is a result of variation and adaptation within a particular type of organism. It is not a process of change which would result in a pine cone and you Uncle Charlie being related in the long distant past.

    I don’t accept anything of evolutionary theory in reference to descent from a common ancestor. The main problem with evolutionary claims is that anything and everything is labeled as evolution. So mere variation within a species, such as the difference between Clydesdales and Belgians is held up as evidence for evolution. Therefore, to deny evolution is ridiculed as denying change. This is palpable nonsense. Evolutionary Theory claims much more than mere change.

    • DaveG
      September 2, 2013

      Thanks, that clears things up for me. Your definition of speciation doesn’t agree with mine, which matches wikipedia’s.

      So please tell me where the myriad current species came from, if it wasn’t common descent.

      And happy Labor Day.

      • Rdizzie
        September 2, 2013

        Does your idea of evolution match this?
        “We’ve defined evolution as descent with modification from a common ancestor, but exactly what has been modified? Evolution only occurs when there is a change in gene frequency within a population over time. These genetic differences are heritable and can be passed on to the next generation—which is what really matters in evolution: long term change.”

        Very simply and easy to understand explanation of Evolution and Speciation is in the link below. I am just trying to help clear things up so you two can get onto a more productive discussion. The back and forth is redundant. You two need a moderator. Let us start by clear cut definition of Evolution and speciation. I think this may help the two of you either agree or at least agree to disagree rather than just restating the same things again and again. Is this link an acceptable starting point for you? As for the other commentor I will need to know more about his point to find a common ground or a set term to go from.
        http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIntro.shtml

  63. Gerry
    September 2, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Your definition of speciation doesn’t agree with mine, which matches wikipedia’s.

    Wow, there’s a reliable source. Yes, I’m a wikipedia snob. If you’re going to base your knowledge and your judgments on what you glean from wikipedia you’re going to be in a world of confusion and misinformation.

    The myriad of species arose due to variation and adaptation originating out of created types of animals. Equines have arisen from a created kind of equine. Canines from a created kind of canine, etc. Such a position makes far more sense of the evidence than does the interpretation that your far off ancestor may have been a slug.

    However, if your presuppositions are all based on materialistic and naturalistic explanations being the only acceptable explanations, then you will naturally reject an explanation such as created kinds of organisms.

    Happy Labour Day to you as well.

    • DaveG
      September 2, 2013

      Gerry, which part of the Empire do you live in?

      Wikipedia is fun, interesting and seems accurate. I don’t use it where more rigorous sources are required.

      Finally you’ve answered my question. Are your creation stories taken from a religious text, or are you proposing multiple abiogeneses?

      I reject your assertions for the reasons you provided, but I’m still curious what the source of your beliefs is. I suspect you’re a Christian Creationist – Young Earth? I appreciate you being so forthcoming, and I don’t plan to drop any snark on you.

      • Rdizzie
        September 2, 2013

        Anyone who believes in the “young earth” has no understanding of the Bible. However the claim that the earth is only 6 thousand years is not unfounded either. How old is the earth as we know it today? 6 thousand years, since the last major ice age changed the earth to what we now enjoy today. This is scientific fact, so how can you logically reject the idea of the earth as we know it being only 6 thousand years old? I am just curious.

        That said I am curious about where his view comes from also. I am a creationist though I am not a “literalist” when it comes to religious text. And the claim that 6 days to God is not the same as 6 days to humans also has foundation in religious text. In fact if you do the math the universe is 18.24 billion years old.

  64. DaveG
    September 3, 2013

    Rdizzie,
    Thanks for the moderation offer, but I’m done asking Gerry questions now that he clearly stated his position. We’ll agree to disagree.

    BTW, the universe is ~ 13.7 BYO.

    I don’t recall rejecting any estimates of Earth’s age. Your ice age interpretation is creative, but doesn’t mean much.

    • Rdizzie
      September 3, 2013

      13.7 is the current estimation. The universe gets older every few years or so. Not too long ago in was only 12 billion and 10 before that and all the way back to 6 thousand. I have faith science will soon catch up to religion and claim it to be around 18.24 billion years. After all it took science almost 1400 years to catch up to religion with the big bang theory and accreation but they did finally come around to the religious view as written in the Abrhamic texts (fingers crossed they continue to catch up).

      No the ice age interpretation does not mean that much, but what is offers is a reference to the earth we have now only being 6 thousand years old. So if the bible claims 6 thousand years as some people say, then really it is not that far off. 6 thousand years ago, there was very likely a “garden of eden” type situation in the middle east that the some 200 humans that left Africa settled into after the last ice age. So from that stand point, the earth would only seem to be 6 thousand years old from that time to now. As before then it was mostly ice, a warm place with lots of animals and vegitation would seem a “God send” if you will. While you are correct in saying that it really does not mean all that much, I think what it does is provide context for the “young earth” theory. But that is just the way I see it. Understanding comes from trying on the shoes of others, and all that. Also you can not hope to debate a person on their logic without an understanding of the basis for their logic. This is why I study most all major religions, so when I try to bring someone to my side of the boat I have at least a working knowledge of what I am saying again though this is just my belief based on the knowledge I have.

  65. Gerry
    September 3, 2013

    DaveG,

    “I suspect you’re a Christian Creationist – Young Earth? I appreciate you being so forthcoming, and I don’t plan to drop any snark on you.”

    Yes, I am, though I was not always. I started out believing in evolution. Later through a rigorous researching of the claims of the Bible I became a Christian, but still held to a long ages view. In the last ten years or so further study has brought me to a young earth position. I understand how people have a hard time accepting this view, but once you move past your presuppositions and simply look at the evidence it begins to make a lot of sense.

    As for not dropping any snark on me, I do sincerely appreciate that. So many who adhere to evolutionary views see it as completely acceptable to ridicule those who hold young earth creationist views. Somehow in their mind they view such ridicule as some form of argumentation. In fact it only shows the shallowness of their knowledge. So again, thank you for respecting my views.

    • DaveG
      September 3, 2013

      I guess I’m softening up. I identify as an atheist, but I think minds, in and of themselves, appear to be supernatural and are “God”, so to speak. I think materialists might say perceptions are Emergent Properties, and cite Qualia; but I think/feel: Why have a (many?) universe if nobody’s there to enjoy it?

      But I have no patience for Polonium Halos and cherry-picking Radiographic dating and such, so let’s not go there.

      Are you a Loyal Subject of HRH Liz 2.0?

  66. Gerry
    September 4, 2013

    DaveG,

    “Are you a Loyal Subject of HRH Liz 2.0?”

    Yes, I am.

  67. Christopher de Vidal
    October 19, 2013

    “He’s just creating a personal definition of evolution in order to scoff at scientific research. (..) Large-scale episodes take time, typically stretching across thousands or millions of years. The scientists who study bacteria over the course of a few weeks don’t expect to witness such transformations.” ~Carl Zimmer

    Ironically it is Carl who changed the definition. He speaks of micro-evolution, calls it “evolution” without the necessary qualifiers, then as the quote demonstrates he takes a leap of faith from that to macro-evolution, while claiming to have a rational, evidence-based world view not based on faith. This is intellectual dishonesty, and when he stands before a Holy God one day he will be called into account for lying to all of you. May he repent and trust in Jesus before it’s too late. He can start by Googling the good person test.

    I don’t have time for such nonsense. Moving on.

  68. Miquelito
    April 10, 2014

    WOW, bacteria can grow more than one tail!

    That’s indisputable proof that random mutations and natural selection invented entirely new concepts that never used to exist, like vision, hearing, flight, consciousness and intelligence itself!

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