Theistic Evolution or ID - thoughts from a simple mind

Dear all,

I’m new here but wanted to share my thoughts as I was wondering about theistic evolution versus ID as well since I’ve been in ongoing discussions about evolution with a good friend who left the faith because he couldn’t reconcile evolution with God.
I’m not a scientist, just a simple mind trying to think critical about his own believes.

So here’s what I came up with:

A) Old earth / old universe
Sure this proven by now (based on speed of light, moleculair clock, etc.).

B) Common descent human from a proto-chimp
Sure this is (statistically) proven by now, retroviruses (ERVs) in humans and chimps are for about 99,8% in the same location.

C) Random mutations lead to rise of new organs or new bodyplans
Not really possible because of:

  1. Combinatorial inflation (making a random search for functional sequences a needle-in-a-haystack proposition)
  2. Mutational load in the genome
  3. Entropy
  4. Explosions of plant- and animal life in the fossil record

D) Natural selection or neutral selection or something else
This fully hinges on C (random mutations). You can’t select something that doesn’t exist?

So this leads me to conclude that God took a proto-chimp and build the first human out of it (common descent). Seems logical (God built Eve out of Adam too) and I think I would do the same (starting all over again is quite inefficient?).

One of my conclusions is that it’s important to make a distinction between common descent and improvements in body plans based on random mutations.
Common descent makes scientifically sense while random mutations leading to new biological structures is hard to prove.

So I guess I believe in common descent but the process cannot be random so ID seems most reasonable to me.

Please let me know if my reasoning is evident or if it makes no sense at all :slight_smile:

Thanks

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A nitpick here. We share a common ancestor with chimps, which would be as much a proto-human as a proto-chimp.

One could spend a lifetime unpacking all this, but I’d be most interested in your reasoning concerning #1. Why should it be difficult to evolve a new organ or body plan? At what point does the gradual transformation of some tissue, or morphological structure, become a “new” organ or body plan?

If mutations and selection can gradually produce all this variation in a matter of a few thousand years, why not “new” organs or body plans in tens to hundreds of millions?

What is it you think is required to happen in the evolution of a “new organ/bodyplan” that did not occur during the domestication of crops and innumerable pets and farm animals?

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Welcome Jelte!

I spotted several errors and misconceptions. Not to worry though, a lot of people on PS could fix that if you are willing to unlearn those misgivings.

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The problem isn’t in your reasoning, but in your premises. Specifically, everything you’ve said in (C) about the impossibility of mutations giving rise to novelty is false. You have probably gotten a lot of that from ID literature and you need to understand that the ID authors are extremely, consistently dishonest.

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Why? There are no new organs or body plans required to go from proto-chimp to human.

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Welcome to the group! Unless I am sorely mistaken, you will soon be receiving very good information, much of it from active scientists in the relevant fields, pertaining to your misgivings in (C). So you’ve come to the right place!

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Would you agree that what you have is not a testable scientific hypothesis? It needs considerable refinement. What do you mean by “first human”? Was Adam an australopithecine? Homo habilis? Homo sapiens? Were he and Eve the sole members of their species? Were all the differences between this “proto-chimp” and modern humans achieved in a single generation? Did Adam have parents, or was he just constructed de novo based on an existing model? (I know you say “common descent”, but what you describe seems a simulation of common descent rather than common descent itself.) Are you describing saltation, or could the changes be gradual? Any answers to these questions will have problems.

The biggest problem is that humans do not exist in isolation. You would need to extend your model to all species (or whatever groups you think necessary) in order for it to work.

Further, all your objections to ordinary evolution have been discussed here, and I don’t see any of them as valid. Perhaps if you fleshed them out a bit they would be easier to discuss. What do you mean by each of them, and why do they preclude natural evolution? How can you tell if a given change requires divine intervention?

Finally, if you look at the respective genomes, the differences between humans and chimps, or between any two species, are exactly the sort and in the frequency we observe in mutations happening today. And if you look at the fossil record, it all seems very haphazard, with no discernible master plan. You mention explosions of diversity, but what about mass extinctions? And consider also the evolution of the mammalian jaw, starting with the support for a filter feeding organ, with detours into the middle ear. There are countless similar cases. If God is indeed intervening in evolution, he’s being very careful to remain undetectable.

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Welcome to PeacefulScience @Jelte! :smiley:

Old Earth Creation has no real conflicts with science because it is not attempting scientific hypotheses. Evolution should be perfectly compatible with OEC, because science cannot answer questions about God. That might be the same with Intelligent Design, if you view ID as a philosophy and not a science. Viewed as science ID runs into the same difficulty as asking scientific questions about God.

C) Random mutations lead to rise of new organs or new bodyplans
Not really possible because of:

The topics you list have been the subject of many deep discussions here. You should have much to explore. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your comments :slight_smile:
I agree, proto-chimp is just something I came up with to phrase it for myself. Not a hill I would want to die on.

For the traits you mentioned, isn’t that microevolutionary changes (such as variation in color) that merely use or express existing genetic information?
That’s different from the macroevolutionary changes required for new organs, tissues and cell types?

Thanks for your feedback!
Would you be able to provide some explanation that proves the ID authors are wrong?

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Thanks Michael! there’s so many answers already but unfortunately so little time available in a day to investigate everything.

Thank you :slight_smile:

I think it is a mistake to combine these multiple different terms and concepts in the way you do. You seem to introduce more with each post.

Microevolution is just defined as evolution below the species level, and macroevolution as evolution above the species level. These are not biochemical/molecular or informational definitions. They say nothing about what kinds of genetic changes occur to result in whatever phenotypic change we see. There is no requirement that micro or macroevolution involves gain or loss of genetic information(however you define that).

Something you might consider a very large-scale molecular change (frameshift mutations or chromosomal rearrangements) can result in something that seems superficially simple, like a change in pigmentation, and a small-scale molecular change can result in something that seems like a large-scale morphological change like a considerable rearrangement of tissue morphology (creating folding structures and/or large size changes).

This gets even worse when you simultaneously want to combine the terms micro/macroevolution with things like “new organs/bodyplans” and “expression of pre-existing genetic information”. You can have one without the other two.

You can have macroevolutionary change without “new organs/bodyplans”. You can have microevolution produced by new genetic information, and you can have everything in between. There is no direct or obvious/necessary relationship between these concepts.

It is actually not. I get the impression you might take these terms to mean something they don’t in evolutionary biology.

There is no rule that says macroevolution has to involve the evolution of a new tissue or bodyplan (regardless of how you might want to define what counts as a “new” tissue or bodyplan), nor is there any rule that says a new tissue or body plan(again, we still don’t know exactly how you personally think something counts as “new”) has to evolve through the origin of “new genetic information” either.

I think before this discussion can progress any further, you need to define as specifically and accurately as you can what exactly you mean by these terms.

What exactly is “new” genetic information? What is the difference between expression of “pre-existing” genetic information, and “new” genetic information?

Suppose you have some DNA sequence AGCTAAATTAA, how different must it be before it switches over from just more of the same or pre-existing genetic information, to “new” genetic information? If one letter is stubstituted for another, is that sequence then not new? Must all of it change, and why?

The same goes for organs and tissues, and body plans? How different must some tissue become to constitute something “new” in your view?
Look at the example of the tissue on the snout of a dog with a flat face again. You go from a wolf with a long, smooth, elongated snout, to a dog with a flat face with wrinkly folding skin. Some have large stiff ears, while others have large soft flaps that hang down on the side of the head. That seems both new and significant to me. The shape and size of the head has changed in everything from bone and teeth to the shape of the muscle and skin covering it.

Whether you want to call that micro or macroevolution seems to do nothing to change the the reality that significant change has occurred for that organism.

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That’s not what microevolution is. Mutation creates new genetic information (whatever you mean by “information”, which is unclear). Selection and drift change the frequency of that new information in the population. “Merely use or express” is a meaningless statement used by creationists to obscure what actually happens.

No. The macroevolutionary changes you refer to are just microevolution summed over long periods. And there really are very few new organs, tissues, or cell types; certainly there are none in humans.

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Others are better suited to do that here. For example, @Mercer has repeatedly explained on this forum how the “combinatorial inflation” problem identified by Douglas Axe is non-existent, and a search for remarks about Douglas Axe will reveal multiple occasions on which he’s tried to explain that to creationists here, in considerable detail. He has also engaged with claims about genetic entropy, mutational overload, et cetera, in detail and at length. And he’s just one of several who have done so; @Rumraket and @T_aquaticus are two others and I am leaving out many, many others – it’s a long list and there are many people here who are much better qualified to speak to these questions than any of the ID authors on whom you’re relying are.

But, a note: I think that a better antidote for this sort of thing, though, is not to look for the “disproof” of the silly things creationists say. Instead, look to the actual scientific literature. If the combinatorial inflation problem were real, it would be the central mystery of evolutionary biology. There would be a copious volume of literature engaged in better understanding the problem and posing various potential solutions. There’s not. It’s not that biologists are ignoring the problem; it’s that it’s not a problem. Likewise “genetic entropy.” If that’s a huge and unsolved problem, there will be biologists working to solve it; if they aren’t working to solve it, what do you think that means? Surely you do not think that the biological science community has its head in the sand. The amount of literature produced on ACTUAL issues in biology is immense; why would the central challenges to evolutionary biology, if they are such, be so completely unacknowledged? Solution of those problems would be the great tasks of our generation.

You can’t drink your information consistently from a polluted stream and then expect, post-ingestion, to distill it into an understanding of the underlying subject. The only remedy is to consult actual biology instead of pseudo-biology, actual scientists instead of pseudo-scientists, actual evolutionary theory instead of straw-man notions of evolutionary theory. As long as you absorb the lies of creationism, you’ll be stuck; as soon as you understand that you need to look to worthwhile sources by people who are engaged in legitimate, actual research, you’ll find that you are getting unstuck.

As for “explosions” – honestly, do some reading of the real biologists. I am in the middle of a re-read of Jenny Clack’s fascinating book Gaining Ground, about the evolution of tetrapods, one of those things the creationists say can’t happen but which happened anyway. On the Cambrian, instead of reading the consistently dishonest Stephen Meyer, who does such things as get through a treatment of the Cambrian without once referencing changes in oxygen levels in the oceans or the small shelly fauna that completely destroy his whole line of reasoning, read the superb book by Erwin and Valentine, REAL paleontologists unlike Meyer. Explosions – or adaptive radiations – aren’t a problem. Part of the answer lies in taphonomy, part of it lies in understanding development regulation, part of it lies in understanding the complex interplay between environment and ecology. And yes, all things are and will always be somewhat incompletely understood – that’s the nature of investigation into highly complex phenomena.

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The primary scientific literature (where we publish the data) clearly shows that they are ignoring most of the data.

The simplest proof that they are wrong and know it is that they only do rhetoric, not the actual work of science. If they had faith in their claims, they would be testing hypotheses with real working scientists.

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Nice to meet you @Jelte.

This is a very commonly held position, pretty close to what WLC proposes here:

You might also appreciate the GAE.

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The use of proof does not apply to science as all theories are subject to new information. As you go through this process you will see claims change on both sides of the arguments with new data.
I think this discussion with @swamidass and Mike Behe is an interesting look at both sides of the argument.

I personally believe the ID argument although limited has a value to science as it explores sciences boundaries.

Precisely.

If that were not the case, then creationists would have to consider the evolution of humans from a common ancestor with chimps as merely “microevolutionary.” That would not do.

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Thanks mr. Swamidass! I’ve seen quite a lot of your video’s on Youtube and am considering to buy your book!

It’s amazing to see how many responses my post attracted and much attention goes to point C about random mutations.
I guess I have to do some more research there :slight_smile:

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