Livestream: How I Changed My Mind on Evolution

April 28th at Noon CDT, I explain on a livestream how I changed my mind about evolution. Join the conversation.

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Great show!

Watching as I type. Some highlights (some is paraphrased, wish I could have given accurate quotes):

Young Earth Creationist famously intolerant of other views.
…really aggressive responses (in Bible study)…

Augustine thought it was unthinkable that lions were vegeterians.

Augustine notes that God was talking about spiritual death…spiritual death is far more literal death than physical death. YEC thought that was heresy.

about 33:00 minutes

…observing about abuse…a bid for control…

…I understand they have large parks…

…my problem isn’t with YEC per se, but the virulent…

Best evidence for evolution was presented, and I agree it is the best evidence for evolution mostly consistent with my description in the Stairway to Life. There was an appeal to neutral theory. This was a good section, very well argued.

I liked the interview. I’ve been abused and lied to by virulent YECs. I’ve had false accusations leveled against me by other YECs. Lots of great YECs, but a few real virulent abusive types that I’ll never forget. I wish the virulent type would go away, they aren’t helpful. So I sympathize with Dr. Swamidass as far as that goes. If virulent YECs will abuse me, how much more anyone else! They give YEC a bad name. I wish they’d go away. They don’t speak for me.

That said: I think Ka/Ks ratios are suspect.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6324840_How_do_synonymous_mutations_affect_fitness

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@swamidass
Just watched the video. I think you did a good job of explaining where you come from and how evidence changed your mind as a scientist, and you did well in answering listener questions also.

I was astonished to hear that you’ve had people (on both sides) of these arguments effectively lie to people by using arguments they knew to be false, and even admit that to you in private.
You said you don’t want to out anyone and you don’t have to, but instead of naming people, can you say at least what those arguments were about that people had used, which they admitted in private to know to be false? That simply boggles my mind.

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The late Duane Gish used to use the standard outrageously-bad thermodynamic argument as to why the Second Law of Thermodynamics shows that evolution can’t happen. When people who knew a little physics would confront him after his talk, he would say that, well OK I guess that is a bad argument. Then the next time he gave a talk he would use the argument again.

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Thanks for watching @Rumraket.

I was pretty shocked myself. I also found that clearly calling out these cases of dishonesty is dangerous. People who lie this freely will do very unethical things to protect themselves. Even softly implying deception, or clearing the record, can call down their wrath. I’ve learned it is important to be cautious and careful in how I expose this deceit.

@jammycakes has a very thoughtful explanation of this among YECs. I highly recommend this series, and I hope he some day cleans this up into a book or booklet: The 10 Best Evidences for a Young Earth .

It is too charged between us right now to point out the examples I know of in ID. That will take time.

A prominent atheist, on video (so not private!), admitted that he knew full well that evolution did not disprove God, but liked saying so because he was more concerned about advancing atheism than advancing science. The audience applauded.

The GAE diplomatically calls out two evolutionary creationists for making public false statements. We can know from public evidence that they knew at the time these were false statements.

I would be remiss to neglect disclosing my own mistakes. In 2017, I made imprecise statements in support of claims by another scientist, claims that I knew to be false at the time. I have great regret about this, and have already explained in other places my error. Why did I do it…

  1. I was trying to be diplomatic.
  2. I thought he was ultimately correct, but for a different reason than he stated, so this wasn’t such a big deal.
  3. I was untenured, and feared retribution.

None of these are valid reasons for making false statements. I could have qualified my statements more carefully. In the end, I still faced retribution anyways.

So I also have made a large mistake in this way. By God’s grace, I came clean quickly, on my own, and publicly. Still, I have great regret about my statements. I should have never have put those false statements in print, and I hope I never do something so foolish again.

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That is very meaningful empathy @stcordova. Your scientific claims usually seem crazy to me, but you have always been kind to me. Thank you.

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An interesting thread to watch, but hold off from interfering with it. I’m curious what will happen.

Not particularly interesting at all. It’s just a stream of creationists basically spamming the thread with red herrings. It doesn’t appear to me the people responding to the OP actually got your point about having a pattern you want to explain, or the agreement between theory and predictions. The only half-way relevant post seems to be the person posting the usual canard about phylogenies being “unproven speculation based on assumptions”.

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Great interview, clearly laying out your thought process and rationale for how the science points to common descent, how your views differ from other creationist views, and why you believe in Jesus.

I particularly liked the point where you said you realized that if young earth science arguments were correct, why don’t any atheist/secular scientists espouse them?

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5 posts were split to a new topic: Introducing Babacar

…as well as almost all religious scientists. Good point. I presume it’s because they’ve bought into the atheistic establishment agenda, i.e. they’re only following orders.

LOL! Anyone buying in to the existence of “the atheistic establishment agenda” obviously does not understand the “herd of cat” reality of atheism. :wink:

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@swamidass, I listened to the part of the chat around the “Rate x Time = Distance” thing, and I have a few questions and comments:

Where did you get the 98% figure? Were you just rounding down from 98.7%?

I think you need to clearly distinguish genetic distance from morphological distance when you’re talking. Where I watched you were almost always meaning genetic distance, but there is ambiguity for anyone who doesn’t already know what you’re saying.

I think you have not clearly distinguished between molecular clocks being consistent with common descent and the way common descent and phylogenetic trees are determined and supported, which doesn’t use them. That may account for @Babs’s questions.

Some of the surprise at the molecular distance disparity between human/chimp and mouse/rat may be due to our failure to perceive morphological differences between the latter pair, i.e. the same reason Chinese perceive all white people as looking alike.

I love the slide (around minute 49) about male-driven evolution. Where does that come from? I don’t remember seeing it in the chimp genome paper, but was that it? [No, it wasn’t.]

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Figure 1b https://www.nature.com/articles/nature04072

I’ll edit later to add the link.

I’m basing this off of Jeffery Thomkin’s read based comparison, which is assembly independent, but also using MASH (for speed) and subtracting out differences due to sequencing errors (the negative control). This approach may underestimate similarity, but it doesn’t really matter because it is the relative similarity between human-chimp vs mice-rat we are concerned with here.

Whoa. I missed that when the paper came out, and I missed it when scanning it a few minutes ago. One might point out that we would expect chimps to have even more strongly biased male-driven evolution than humans, since they have stronger sperm competition than we do, much bigger testicles, higher rate of production, etc. Then again, they don’t live quite as long.

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Incidentally, this is also an argument for junk DNA. If the pattern of fixations matches the pattern of mutations, that suggests that the fixations are unfiltered by selection. Bet if you made a similar study of 2nd positions in protein-coding genes only, the pattern would be quite different.

And that is exactly what we find - the pattern of mutations we can observe occurring the human genome, both in terms of mutation location and mutation type, match well with the fixed mutations we find in human genomes.
See sections 2 and 3:

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That’s a somewhat different point. The distribution of differences being the same as the distribution of mutations confirms both common descent (your point, and Joshuas) and the prevalence of junk DNA (my point).