Wow! That was some discussion, though easy going and pleasant!
In this discussion with Dr. Swamidass, he made a presentation for why he accepted evolution (primarily human common descent). He gave the following arguments and I gave counter arguments:
DNA genome analysis shows more similarity between human and chimp (he said 98%) more than mouse and rat (80%). My response was that human and chimp protein similarity is only 20%, which means that the similarity on DNA level is not indicative of similarity on the ground, which is what makes a difference.
He pointed out that molecular clock measurement using neutral evolution theory appears to be consistent with divergence time of chimps and humans, likewise between mice and rats. My comment is that molecular clocks rely on neutral mutations while the functional differences depend on the beneficial mutations which cannot be (in my opinion) justified by random mutations especially given the little time available for divergence.
He argued that there are types of neutral mutations that are common for mutations that occur between ancestors and off-springs. I commented that there are also more mutations that are not of that type and that those mutations are the ones that are responsible for the phenotypic changes, so focusing one type without explaining the other is not enough.
He argued that the the higher than average mutation in the Y chromosome and the lower than average in the X chromosome are consistent with the nature of the X chromosome which spends more at the female, and the Y chromosome which spends more in the male with higher chances of mutation. I commented that there can be other explanations to this phenomenon which might be just a statistical reflection of the nature of those two chromosomes in chimp and human likewise.
His point of view is that there seems to be no special evidence for design in the human genome variance versus the chimp. I argued that the functional variance is quite obvious, and that if the variance did not require new design then we should expect and should find many creatures that share the human condition just like humans; crocodiles, sharks, … etc. He agrees that this is a mystery and that science does not answer all questions by nature.
He argued that most of the mutations are neutral and that maybe we did not need that much positive mutations after all between humans and great ape ancestors. I argued that actually on the physical level, the great apes (example chimp) have superior physical abilities including an obvious strength advantage and if humans were descendants of chimps (edit correction: chimp ancestors) then it is not reasonable that we lose those abilities (by virtue of natural selection), especially that we needed them, and even that we go to the gym until today to gain the muscle mass that makes us healthy and in good shape, so it is does not compute that we acquire extra positive mutation and meanwhile lose the superior traits that we needed in the process.
I argued that using population genetics it can be shown that there is no available time to collect the needed mutations and fix them, invoking waiting times, generation length, initial population size, and number of off-springs. He argued that maybe those mutations happened in parallel rather than in series. I commented that even if they happen in parallel there is still no available time and that there is the major issue of coherence of the changes. On that topic he invited me to go together into a more involved exercise using simulation software (SLIM, MS Prime) at a later time, or do it with a group of scientists on peaceful science.
We also discussed many other things, and in short he sees that since the math supports it he accepts it and if I reject it then I have to come up with a better mathematical model, though from my side, I argued that I needed the model to produce the predictions that matter most about the human condition (which it doesn’t) and hence I have no reason to accept it.
- We also went to discuss more subtle issues about the animals we see around us and whether it is reasonable to think that their behavior can be explained by genetics. I argued that it cannot as they exhibit behaviors that in our experience mandates learning (which can only be explained by a teacher), and he argued that maybe there are explanations that we do not yet know about and that the real behavior might be a step-by-step one that is only apparently well-thought of. I argued, giving examples, that this would be quite a far fetch.
At the end Dr. Swamidass affirms he believes in Divine providence of the creation process, and that what we consider random to us is not random to God.
Dr. Joshua Swamidass, PhD, MD, of Washington University, author of the Genealogical Adam and Eve, a Christian Scientist, computational biologist, also founder of Peaceful Science.
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