Ontogenetic Depth

Your claim is false. The paper from @pnelson I am reading is from 2015:
Why St. Denis Should Be the Patron Saint of Evolutionary Theory
April 7, 2015, 11:39 AM

Moreover, I haven’t even spent an hour.

I’m asking you to support your claim. It appears that you are unwilling to behind it, as well as falsely accusing me of limiting myself to something @pnelson wrote in 2003, instead of his ~5-page essay from 2015.

Speaking of good faith, in the time you took to write that, you could have easily written yes or no a few hundred times. I’ll take your handwaving and false accusation as a no, and spend the hour doing something far more productive.



So wonderful to see you here. Peaceful Science is a fruitful place to test out ideas.

As I pondered Ontogenetic Depth in your video, I thought more in terms of Ontogenetic VOLUME.

The Hayflick limit is about 60 cell divisions (generations) or so, that is somewhat a good measure of “depth” of the cell lineage, although some cell lines keep going – I think skin cell lines.


If we imagine a vertical line through various X-coordinates in the picture, each line shows how many cell divisions away from the ancestor.

The Hayflic limit may not seem like a lot, but unlike the ocean diagram above the “siblings” of the cell lines have to interact. That is to say skeleton cells have to cooperate with muscle cells. Nerve cells in the eye have to cooperate with the eye parts like cornea.

Ontogenetic volume is roughly then the count of cells. This may seem crude, but lets just consider the brain. Each cell is unique and has to be addressable so we can think and remember, not just ideas, but smells, sights, sounds. The brain cells in their respective cell linages have to interact with other brain cells, in fact other nerve cells. Here is a diagram of just some of the specialized types of nerve cells, and these are only some of the mouse ganglion cells:

Within the ontogenic volume of a creature, these cells have to hookup the right way, and that’s a lot of connections. For example, within the ontogenic volume of the human brain of 100 billion cells, it is estimated there are more connections than all the switches and routers in the world wide web. So not only is the ontogenic volume immense in terms of the different number of cells, but also the number of connections that have to be properly managed between a literal sea of cells.

If every neuron in the brain is unique, then the ontogenic volume is roughly 100 billion cells, even though the ontogenic depth (in terms of generations from ancestor) is somewhat shallow (say 60 generations ).

A measure of the ontogenetic volume probably corresponds to the total information capacity of a cell, especially the glycome.

But I need to point something out regarding the protein interactome. The interactome diagrams totally UNDERSATE the complexity of the interactome. For example, Histones/Nucleosome complexes might be listed as having about 42 bits of memory in post translational modifications. However, if we multiply the number of nucleosomes times the number of bits in a single nucleosome I get 80 megabytes of memory. If we then multiply 80 megabytes times the number of cells in a human, it some absurdly high number.

At a talk I gave, Dr. Sanford was skittish that I was citing such gigantic numbers for a presentation. A couple years later, I found an article that independently confirmed my calculation of 80 megabytes for the Histones/Nucleosome complex alone in a single cell, which translates to something on the order of Sextillion bytes of memory.

But the histones are only 1 set of proteins among the 20,000 or so out there! So in terms of the post translational modifications alone, the amount of memory is staggering. And the glycome dwarfs what is stored in protein post-translational modifications.

So the Designer has to have foresight of all 100 trillion cells, the glycome of the cells, the post translational modifications through stages of development.

One indicator of Ontogenetic Volume is described by Robert Tjian in his 2 videos on protein regulation where he talks about combinatoric regulation, go to about 4 minutes in and you can see him comparing the difference in combinatoric regulation.

So, someone might think, the polymerase complex in bacteria has only 6-7 units, and the Eukarytotic mahcinery has 85 units and say, “Big deal.”

But if we are talking combinatorics, this is like saying 1,000,000 (one followed by 6 zeros) is not really a big difference of 1 followed by 85 zeros! This suggests to me the complexes Tjian describes are an combinatoric indication of the difference in ontogenic volume between a simple organism (which really has no ontogenic volume since it is single celled) to a multi cellular Eukaryote.

Tjian also was suggesting the cannoical 200 or cell types is just an arbitrary classification, he talks about thousands of cell types in the human. Given that each brain cell is uniquely addressible, it seems the Designer is giving each brain cells the capacity to almost be a cell type of its own.

I believe God made yeast to have way more combinatorial capacity than the yeast cell needs to give us insight into how the combinatorial system in humans works.

We study C Elegans to understand the human brain because it’s combinatorially prohibitive to study something as complex as the human brain. God gave us C Elegans to help us understand ourselves. The video relating to the Nobel Prize work you cited at the start is consistent with the intuition that God made these creatures similar to us for our benefit.

I’d just like to point out that this is actually a revealing statement from Sal.

When creationists like Sal Cordova come here, it’s not to actually really discuss these matters and find out what is true. Sal is an apologist before anything else, his job is to try to either prevent deconversion, or to produce new converts.

So when Sal comes here, it’s to test out how various ideas and arguments fare under scrutiny. This helps him prune a lot of random creationist crap and find the tidbits that takes a bit more effort to unpack and criticize, which helps Sal find the arguments and presentations to use in his apologist efforts.
There’s a rich tradition of Christian apologists doing this. With zero care for actual truth, they go and “test” their arguments in an ironic analogy to natural selection, and then pick out the ones that they feel stand up better. That’s also why Sal is creating so many threads all the time. He’s trying to generate a lot of variation, and then see what “sticks”.


Ironically employing a Darwinian algorithm…


I have to agree with others that this claim needs a lot of support. How can you claim this is true for metazoans from 100’s of millions of years ago?

1 Like

It’s true for almost all metazoans we know of, isn’t it? No big stretch to suppose it’s true for their fossil relatives. The more important question is why that should be a problem for evolution. He so far won’t say.

1 Like

But the key word there is almost.

The key there is @pnelson’s contrived, unwarranted, and tacit assumption that in the evolutionary history of C. elegans, the initial multicellularity must have been mosaic (as C. elegans is today) and not regulatory (like Dicty and mammals).

Anyone want to start a pool on whether the claim below is an accurate representation of the video?

Why is that even a problem? Can’t even mosaic development be modified in early stages? Can’t such modifications evolve so as to add or delete cells and modify cell fates?


I have these same questions.

Also, referring to the CEICP model in the St Denis article on ENV, it occurs to me that one switch/gradient may be all that is needed (or, to be more concise, the bare minimum that is needed) to achieve the complete pattern. I am not seeing the problems here.


I think it’s a huge conceptual problem for @pnelson, if I take him to be sincere, which is quite a stretch.

For me, it is much easier to see how multicellularity would be optional with regulatory development, as we can see with Dicty today.

Absolutely. It’s simply easier to see without mosaicism in my opinion.

I’m just trying to view this from a layman’s perspective; I am confident that most of his target audience would incorrectly assume that human development is mosaic based on the 2015 essay I read.