Re: Stereotypes and reputations

From: Tim <>
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 09:09:25 EDT

Cornelius Hunter:
>Once again, the nested hierarchy is not a prediction of evolution,
>it is a retrodiction. To the extent that the pattern is real, it
>was known long before Darwin came around. The evolutionist's claim
>that this pattern is a prediction of evolution is false. Mechanisms
>are freely available to the evolutionist to explain other patterns,
>such as separate creations and temporarily high mutation rates
>(which are routinely appealed to by evolutionists)."

I agree that the initial discovery that life fits a pattern of nested
hierarchies was not a prediction of common descent. It is evidence that
allows one to *deduce* common descent. Then again, the initial patterns
that were found lacked the resolution to link many of the groups
together and so there was no assurance that the pattern would extend as
far as it has. Prior to the idea of common descent with modification,
there was no known phenomenon to pull it together. Darwin noted that
some authors of the time were even skeptical about the notion that all
the different breeds of cattle may be related.

The idea with evolution is that *with sufficient resolution*, you might
be able to find that the relationships track with time. It is observed
that the nested hierarchy is non-random with respect to time and we
continue to resolve more relationships between organisms. It’s not
perfect but the hierarchy is filling in. Furthermore, the time since the
last common ancestor still remains the strongest correlated factor with
molecular divergence. So the existence of a nested hierarchy that tracks
with time, morphology and biochemistry strongly corroborates common descent.

Of course there are thousands of other “possible” explanations for the
patterns observed in life (Invisible Pink Unicorns, morphic resonance,
special creation), but are they likely or feasible given what we know of
the physical world today?

ORFans and bacteria:
I noticed that ORFans were mentioned in this discussion. I tend to
follow the bacteriology literature. Here is a URL for a paper from
Howard Ochman on the distribution of ORFans across a bacterial lineage.
What is interesting is that one can identify older ORFans (that are more
widely spread in a monophyletic group) and observe some patterns about
how their sequences adapt to their host genome over time. Based on the
AT/GC bias and integration positions of the bacterial ORFans, Howard
proposes that many ORFans in the gamma-Proteobacteria may have come from
phage sequences (Note: Bacteriophages have not be extensively surveyed
and many remain uncharacterized).

Tim I
Received on Thu Aug 4 09:12:52 2005

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