From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Deleted comments to Nate Claiborne's blog Metamarturo will be reposted here[edit]

In re: "Evolution: A Brief Introduction" formerly titled "Evolving Down By The Pool"...

I first tested the waters with "Do you really think tanning is evolution? Can you give me an example of how tanning changes your genome?" He responded (can't remember his post's wording but he said the claim "tanning does not change your genome" is an unfalsifiable claim "in the logical deductive sense" (yeah, because this guy understands what falsifiable means!), he wrote that he "denies the restrictive definition" that only changes to the genome count as evolution, and finally he thought "my question missed the whole point of the article").

So I wrote this reply...

  • Hi Nate, Let me demonstrate the relevance of my question. It is a long post but hopefully at the end you will be untanned (i.e. enlightened).
  • 1. Because you still seem a little confused: your skin tans because UV radiation oxidizes melanin (you wrote melatonin. That actually regulates your circadian rhythm). Sunlight also activates melanocyte cells to produce more melanin. Your skin cells' genetic code doesn't change during tanning. That's not an "unscientific" or "unfalsifiable" claim; it can be easily tested. Extract cell samples from your tanned skin and from any internal organ. If the DNA is different my claim is falsified. But the DNA will be the same.
  • OK, why is this important? because
  • 2. Evolution is genetic change over time. This is not a "restriction of the definition" but THE definition in the biological sciences and what you will find in any biology text. No genetic change, no evolution; so tanning is not evolution. Why doesn't Lennox mention genetics? The distinction is CRUCIAL because evolution acts upon genes, not upon phenotypes (appearance/morphology). The idea that evolution acts upon phenotypes is called "Lamarckian inheritance" - it was a popular theory before genetics. Your idea that you "adapt" over your lifetime to best suit your environment is basically Lamarckism. You either ignored or seemed ignorant of Mendelian genetics in your discussion of "Darwinism." I can't fault you for this when practically every evangelical author makes the same omission!
  • OK, why is this important? because
  • 3. Darwin made good observations but he was wholly ignorant of the gene, and he did not even rule out Lamarckism - he had no basis for doing so. The mechanism of heredity was controversial until the early 20th century when we discovered chromosomes and rediscovered Mendel's work on the gene. DNA itself was not even discovered until decades after Darwin died. Evolutionary theory is a synthesis of Darwin, Mendel, Fisher, Haldane and others - just as astronomy is a synthesis of Galileo, Brahe, Kepler, Copernicus, and Newton. Lennox proposes a non-genetic definition of evolution and argues against it. This is about as constructive as debating against the Tychonic solar system.
  • OK. So what's the upshot?
  • 4. Even a seminary with a creationist presupposition at least owes you a survey of the science you're attempting to "debunk". It's a necessary part of making the apologetic case. If you stick to authors like Lennox for your understanding of evolution, your case against it, complete with claims like "I evolve so to speak and adapt to my environment," will only convince people who are not science literate, and will amuse everyone else.
  • If you don't believe me... Let's say a liberal atheist, of the "Jesus wuz a myth" type, is questioned and we discover that he cannot name the author (OR the audience!) of Ephesians, he believes the Gospels were written in Latin and he thinks "concordance" is what happens when the Pope ex-excommunicates you. How seriously would YOU take him? Would you convert to atheism?
  • I recommend Campbell-Reece's text Biology. The chapter on Mendel is a good starting point. God bless, Tad

Nate's reply[edit]

Can be found here.

Soon to be deleted comment by Tetronian (may be removed from here if Tet wishes)[edit]

Nate, I am one of the people from “elsewhere online,” and with your permission I would like to take a moment to comment on the incident. Your humility is, I must admit, uncommon in the world of internet debates concerning evolution. Most people (on both sides) almost never admit when they are wrong, let alone devote a whole post to doing so. That said, why did you decide to delete the comments section of the “Evolving Down by the Pool” essay? Though this site is of course yours and you may do with it whatever you like, I don’t understand why the offending comments were deleted. I know nothing about the world of philosophy or apologetics, but in the world of science, there is no harm in admitting that you were wrong and explaining why. But that’s just a minor quibble–the main point I would like to make is this: Lenski’s experiment is indeed very significant. Richard Dawkins’ most recent book, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” devotes a large portion of a chapter to Lenski’s experiment and its significance. To summarize Dawkins’s arguments: Lenski’s results provide proof of evolution allowing an organism to develop entirely new mechanism because of a series of mutations working in tandem. This blows a hole in the idea of “irreducible complexity,” a common (fallacious) argument against evolution. Also, Lenski’s results show that the dichotomy between micro- and macroevolution (an idea you discussed in your “Evolving Down by the Pool” post) is mostly imaginary. In addition, the experiment completely refutes some of the more absurd anti-evolution arguments, such as the idea that the Second Law of Thermodynamics conflicts with evolution. You might also be interested in the following link, which provides a more thorough treatment of these ideas: Forgive me if all this sounds offensive or antagonistic, I did not intend it to be that way. I would certainly understand if you decide remove my comment from your site. Tet