Thursday, November 25, 2004

Steve Jones, Daily Telegraph, 24/11

Steve Jones argues that arrogance is the problem of creationists: "they cannot bear the idea that they share ancestors with simpler creatures." One can just as reasonably argue that arrogance is the problem of evolutionists: they cannot bear the idea that there is a being to whom they might have to give an account.

It was an interesting article - it said that, rather than evolving lots of times, vision evolved once - and as evidence makes reference to the fact that there is a certain organism that has lived unchanged on the seabed since (reading between the lines) before the Cambrian explosion, which has a protein in its brain that is found in the human optic nerve. The same protein is found in the vision systems of all sorts of other organisms. Cool!

A couple of points, though. Firstly, Jones remarks that the human version of this protein is actually less far removed (5% rather than 16%) than the version in the invertebrate line. He comments that this shows that homo sapiens is naturally conservative. However, although this was a non-technical article, if he is talking about molecular homology then I comment: nonsense. Molecular homology is used as a means of demonstrating relatedness, to show how evolution by common descent is plausible - textbooks have diagrams comparing cytochrome-C from different organisms. If you start saying that in this case, the molecular homology in humans is different, then you have to start asking whether the whole molecular homology thing is flawed in the first place. NB - it is not a technical article; Jones never mentions molecular homology; I am reading between the lines here.

Secondly, the "interesting" bit of evolution occurred somewhere else. The "lord of the flies, the worms and the human race" had "a heart, brain, legs and more". Now forgive me, but this doesn't sound like a primitive organism, but quite a complex one. It's a lot easier to envisage how a new organism might modify existing structures to adapt to new environments than it is to envisage how this precursor organism might have had these in the first place - especially before so much of the cellular differentiation that characterised the Cambrian explosion came about - conventional evolutionist wisdom was that life before this point had developed quite slowly.

However, assuming it hadn't, this scenario still leaves unanswered the question as to where all these proteins and structures might have come about in the first place, to be available for subsequent evolution. This relates to the question of probability that is discussed a couple of posts below. Unless a realistic mechanism for producing these proteins and structures can be proposed, evolution doesn't work.

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