[asa] Re: microevolution (Baraminology)

From: Duff,Robert Joel <rjduff@uakron.edu>
Date: Fri Sep 19 2008 - 14:56:22 EDT

With respect to the discussion on microevolution I recently wrote the following to a few friends as a commentary on present YEC work on what they call bariminology and thought it might be useful here. Under the umbrella of bariminology YECs have been gradually incorporating more and more of what is standard micro evolutionary theory but also defining much if usually considered macroevolution and attempting to redefine it under their definition of microevolution. In addition to the detailed example below there are recent articles about how all goat and sheep species are all one baramin and thus arose from a single pair of a few individuals. All those divergent characters are not just the result of sorting variation but are now admitted to be the result of new mutations (thought carefully not called new information!) that were quickly selected for by environmental conditions. Below I do a quick review of a paper from the latest issue of the ARJ from AIG.

In the latest issue of the Answers Research Journal I found the following article:
"Karyotype Variability within the cattle Monobaramin." Jean K. Lightner (Independent Scholar).

The author attempts to explain how all the members of the cattle monobaramin (ie. A creationist' monophyletic group) can have disparate chromosome numbers and evidences of multiple translocated portions of chromosomes. The authors struggle to balance the perceived need for a "perfect" genome in the original created kind with the effects of the fall on the genome itself and the extent to which the original creation was prepared to produce all the variation we see today from only a single original species kind. The article is fascinating and reveals just how contorted the logic of creationist becomes when constrained by these questionable assumptions about created order and results of the fall. Below I quote passages from this article and include comments (JD):

"However, I have argued that species within the genus Bubalus should be included within the cattle monobaramin based on a study which yielded hybrid embryos which developed to the advanced blastocyst stage (Kochhar et al. 2002). I suggested that this stage indicates development past the maternal phase and requires the coordinated expression of both maternal and paternal morphogenetic genes (Lightner 2007a)."

JD: The author believes there was one created cattle kind that gave rise to domestic cattle, water buffalos and other similar ruminants. Her argument for the inclusion of water buffalos (Bubalus) as having the same origin as other cattle is that hybrid embryos can be formed. Obviously the assumption here is that life begins at the first cell and if there can be union of cells that survive even if only to a later embryonic stage then there must be sufficient identity between the organisms that they must be related by common ancestry (created kind). I wonder if she has bothered to apply his reasoning to the literature and see where that would take her in terms of what other groups of organisms she would have to accept as having a common origin based on embryonic hybridization.

"Given that in the beginning God commanded the creatures He created to reproduce and fill the earth, it would seem that variation that poses a significant barrier to reproduction within a monobaramin has developed subsequent to Creation, and may very likely be post-Curse. It could be argued that some variation, such as rob (1;29), was actually created because it does not always significantly impair reproduction and perhaps it never would in a perfect pre-Fall world. However,we see de novo tranlocations today. Additionally, many similar inferred translocations discussed would impede reproduction between certain members within a monobaramim."

JD: Summarizing: God created an original kind that must have been able to reproduce very efficiently in the pre-fall world. After the fall, we see translocations (rearrangements in the chromosomes that include even entire chromosomes being attacked to one another or split in half) that impede reproduction and thus they must be part of the fall effect. But look below, some translocations are not part of the fall but are Gods plan.

"Since translocations have been identified in animals of normal phenotype, it is highly doubtful that chromosomal fusions are merely accidental occurrences that can be attributed to purely chance events. In addition to the breaks in the chromosomes (which may be somewhat random), these rearrangements require important mechanisms that repair breaks, silence a centromere, and apparently adjust the amount of constitutive heterochromatin over time in a way that maintains viability."

JD: This author seems to be schizophrenically attempting to define random and designed processes. In the next section she seems to want to say that natural selection doesn't happen but then proceeds to describe how it does happen. Very strange! Start in the first sentence. A normal animal has been shown to have large translocations but by some sort of unspecified definition it is still normal and therefore is like God's good creation and therefore this translocation could not happen by mere accident and can't be due to "purely chance events." Since breaks have to be fixed and accommodated in the genome in a supposedly complex fashion this is further proof of design although the breaks can apparently be "somewhat random." ??? What does it mean that the breaks may be random but the fusions are no mere accident? This is really peer reviewed??

" Furthermore, these translocations can become fixed in different populations. This implies that there is some purpose and benefit to them. Although they may come at a cost (usually reduced fertility in heterozygotes), chromosomal translocations may provide a degree of plasticity that is necessary for animals to adapt in a sin-cursed world. Perhaps certain harsh environments or marginal diets trigger chromosomal fragility which may result in translocations. These may allow for certain new gene associations that are beneficial to the animal. Other animals not carrying these traits may not do as well and perhaps choose to move elsewhere. The few animals carrying the rearrangement may be better able to exploit a particular environment. Thus essentially the founder effect helps the translocation to become established within the population. Therefore, it appears plausible that chromosomal rearrangements are the result of designed mechanisms that provide a source of variability that allows animals to adapt in our fallen world."

JD: Here is where it gets really contorted. These translocations (read as "mutations") can become fixed in populations. Fixed means that after a mutation occurs at some point that mutation may find its way into the entire population and now become the new genetic condition. (eg. The gaur has 58 chromosomes and the bison has 60 so if they both came from the same kind - read common ancestor! - then an individual in that common ancestor must have had a mutation that resulted in either condition and then that mutation spread through a whole population resulting in the formation of the division between the species). Second sentence: If a translocation (mutation) gets fixed in a population by definition it is beneficial/purposeful. However (third sentence) there may be some small cost which was not part of the original plan of creation but necessary in the sin-cursed world. Then the environment (read as "nature") may cause these mutations which may result in some new beneficial features. How are these new beneficial features chosen to survive? Well, those animals that weren't blessed with the new beneficial mutations may not do as well (read as "are less fit") and may choose to move elsewhere. Funny, rather than say they may not survive, the author simply refers to animals simply choose to move to another location where there genes are better adapted to that new environment. There is such a reluctance here to suggest that there could be negative consequences of having gene combinations that were actually part of the original "normal animal" and thus could die as a result of their genetic condition.

So these chromosome re-arrangements (mutations) are designed to be a source of variation but those variations are somehow fixed based on the interaction with the environment (natural selection). It sounds like she is just talking about mutations and natural selection but attempting to make it sound as if there is a design element that somehow makes it different than a standard evolutionary explanation.

The peer review in this supposed "research journal" is not surprisingly very relaxed. Terms are poorly defined and the articles consist of large amounts of speculation or assertion that is left unreferenced in many cases. The most shocking speculation comes in a footnote at the very end of the article in which the statement is made:

"The Bible does make it clear that man does not share a common ancestor with other animals, but it does not provide information on the original karyotype in man or created kinds. The possibility exists that all mammals may have been created with essentially identical karyotypes (i.e., the same chromosome number and banding patterns).

I was floored by this suggestion given the great variation in chromosome number today. The author seems to be suggesting that massive chromosome number and structural changes have occurred to animal groups over a short period of time. This is pure speculation but I believe that part of the reason for this suggestion is that the author may feel that it could take some pressure of explaining the chromosome similarities between man and chimps. Rather than common ancestry it is yet more evidence that all animals are part of the same design.

R. Joel Duff, Ph.D, Associate Professor
Department of Biology
University of Akron
Akron OH 44325-3908
Phone: (330) 972-6077
FAX: (330) 972-8445
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2008 7:55 AM
To: Jon Tandy; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Microevolution

Jon -

The initial assumptions you cite are manifestly flawed even before we get to any considerations about the implications just what constitutes microevolution or its implications. Just for starters -

a. If this is understood to rule out evolution then it also rules out any change at all.

b. "Kind" is not identical with the modern concept of "species."

c. This is false. For one thing it depends on the environment. The sickle cell mutation has beneficial features for populations in areas with high incidences of malaria.

d. This would make sense only if we had no traits in common with apes (from whom, of course, we didn't descend).

Connecting with our earlier discussion of the Reiss affair, it would be much better to challenge the basic theological and exegetical assumptions of YECs than to try to make inroads via scientific arguments.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Tandy<mailto:tandyland@earthlink.net>
To: asa@calvin.edu<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 11:38 PM
Subject: [asa] Microevolution

It seems that most of those today who are anti-evolution based on a literal reading of Genesis are willing to accept "microevolution" (which they define as variation within species or possibly change between species, but not at higher levels). This morning I thought about several claims, which I think are generally held. The first, second and fourth claims are religious, the third is scientific (not saying that any of the claims are necessarily correct).

a. If God declared his creation "good" and "finished" in the first two chapters of Genesis, then evolution's claims that species can adapt and change over time contradicts a literal reading.

b. God created the various "kinds" and told them to reproduce "after their kind", which is taken to mean that there can't be change between species. They continue to reproduce according to how God created them originally.

c. All mutations are detrimental.

d. Evolution of humans from apes and other animals with common traits as humans puts humans on the level of animal, and nullifies the special of humans who were made "in the image of God".

However, given that microevolution is accepted by creationists, what does microevolution entail?

1. Species can mutate from their originally created "good" condition. This means that the creation was not "finished" in Genesis 2, but continues to adapt and develop over time.
2. Natural selection along with mutation can be observed to cause species to develop in beneficial ways for their perpetuation, which means that natural selection must be accepted by anti-evolutionists as a viable mechanism for positive change within or between species.
3. This means that not all mutations are necessarily detrimental or "bad".
4. If a given species can change over time so that it produces entirely different "kinds" of entities, to me this undercuts the whole idea of animals always necessarily reproducing "after their kind" (meaning within the same originally created "kind").
5. Just as humans share common, apparently inherited characteristics with other animals, humans are also made of the same atoms and chemicals as all the rest of creation. If chemistry and particle physics don't contradict the special "image of God" nature of humanity, then why should common biological elements be considered any differently?

Thus, acceptance of microevolution (which is tacitly acknowledged by most creationists) requires acceptance of the possibility of beneficial mutations and natural selection and fundamental change from God's originally created "kinds". Acceptance of the common chemistry within the human species is equivalent to the common elements of biology. Thus, all the above arguments against macroevolution seem to be contradicted by logical comparison with microevolution.

Does this line of reasoning make sense?

I realize this still doesn't answer the belief that "kinds" include not only species but genus and maybe even family, and some allow for microevolution within groups larger than the species. In response it is asserted that the creationists' definition of "kind" is ad hoc and inconsistent, meaning simply "all the areas in which I don't want to admit the possibility of macroevolution."

And of course another line of evidence is the biological data showing not only change between species, but between families, orders, and even phyla.

Jon Tandy

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Received on Fri Sep 19 14:57:16 2008

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