Muslim Interview: Evidence for Evolution

An interview today with a Muslim…

Dr. Joshua Swamidass, PhD, MD, of the University of Washington, author of the Genealogical Adam and Eve, a Christian Scientist, also founder of Peaceful Science, was raised YEC, however he changed his mind, and accepted Evolution. Still, he believes God is the Creator! How does those reconcile?

He will explain to me why he changed his mind, and we will see what we can convince each other with. Myself being a Muslim, an Engineer, believing in God as the Creator, but rejecting that Random mutations and Natural selection progressed life, I think we have a lot to discuss.

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Since you’re a Christian Scientist, do you reject aspirin? And of course he’s an Engineer. Question: does capitalization make everything more important?

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Incidentally, where did he get that tree? It’s wrong in so many ways.

And I hope you will be able to convince him that mutation and selection are not the same thing as common descent.


Whoa. You really should have pushed back on his claim that humans and chimps are only 20% similar “on the protein level”. That’s a bizarre claim, and I’d like to know where he got it. One well-known figure is that 70% of proteins differ at at least one site between humans and chimps. Perhaps that’s what he’s trying to get at? But of course most of those proteins differ at exactly one site, so an actual alignment would find considerably more than 98% similarity. Human exons are on average 99.5% similar to chimp exons, and the amino acid similarity would logically be greater than that.


I am familiar with the claim and it is about protein expression profiles. I forget the exact degree of difference, but I do recall it being larger than the genetic difference.

Are you quite sure that’s what he’s talking about? How would you even calculate a percent difference with those data?

We could ask him to clarify. He plans to come to the forum.

Point of style: you shouldn’t interrupt him so often, frequently before he makes whatever point he’s trying to. It’s rude. True, he interrupts you too, and when you don’t interrupt him he tends to go into a Gish Gallop. But I think that on a few occasions you mis-guessed what he was about to say, and that impeded discussion.

The male-driven evolution bit was useful. Too bad he won’t deal with it. The mutation spectrum argument, ditto. As seems common with creationists, he seems unable to separate the descent/creation question from the guided/unguided evolution question.


This is probably the paper he’s referring to:

They get the 20% figure from the proportion of identical proteins, even though they’re only comparing 127 proteins.

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It is true that Joshua interrupts a bit too often by guessing what would be said. Not only in this interview, but in other interviews. It would be more cautious and helpful to get the habit of not interrupting as much as possible and necessary–especially during a formal debate with moderator. What Joshua could do is have a piece of paper in front of him with a pen or a pencil, and then as the individual speaking explains something that Joshua would disagree with (or would dismiss or clarify), to put a few words or a sentence on the paper that summarizes what is in Joshua’s mind for Joshua to address it when it’s his turn.

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The figure based on more complete data would be 29%. That’s what’s reported in the chimp genome paper.


There is beauty in the world, but there are also some ugly fishes in the Pacific Ocean Mariana Trench :blowfish:


@Ahmed_AbdelSattar, is that your reference? There is some controversy here regarding what measure of protein similarity you are using. If you could cite your reference, that would clear up any confusion.


I’ve run into this guy quite a few time recently. He’s quite confident that he, as an electronics engineer, has found some fatal flaws in evolutionary theory. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the corrections he receives here.

While we’re waiting for him to show up, I’ve taken the liberty of copying a post he has made in several Facebook groups with a summary of how he understands this discussion proceeded:

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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He made the same post here: Human Evolution Discussion

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Ah, I hadn’t seen that. This thread, then, is redundant. I’ll hop on over to the other one.

Though that he is so inordinately proud of his points there does not bode well…


The Salem Hypothesis rears its head again.


I’ve always wondered whether computer “scientists” would qualify as engineers under the Salem Hypothesis. If so, that certainly increases the number of confirmations.

I’d include software engineers. Real computer scientists, I dunno, but there aren’t nearly as many of them in the world.