> Question no. 1:
This has been addressed by others...
>Question no 2:
>Since there is great uncertainty about how mutations of macro evolution
>arose, how can anyone be certain they were "random"? Isn't an insistence
>upon "randomness" merely a question of ideology, reinforcing the suspicion
>that Darwinism has become an anti-theist religion?
"Randomness" is, at its core, a philosophical question and can
apparently be worked into theistic and atheistic worldviews.
> Question no 3:
> I've heard "common ancestor" written in the plural, conceding the
> possibility of more than one. If there could be 2, or 5, or 10
> common ancestors, why not 100--or 1000?
I haven't seen "common ancestor" written in the plural. I suppose
one alternative would be that life arose multiple times and some
lineages "fused" into hybrids -- These hybrids then lucked out and
became the only branch to survive. I suppose that scenarios is
possible but I suspect that this would have to have happened very
early in the history of life. I make this guess on the basis of
the tremendous genetic and biochemical similiarities we see in life
> Where would biology set the limit? Does one common ancestor
> insist that life arose only once
No, only that arose _at least once_.
> --and everything descended from that one unique event?
Yes, by definition. Everything alive _today_ descended from a
common ancestor. For example, it might be possible that life
arose twice but only one lineage survived.
> What if life is discovered to be common in the universe? Similar DNA
> apparently results in similar morphology, but is that necessarily
> proof of common descent?
Given what we know of mutation, reproduction and variation, I think
that for most formulations of common descent, this would be a
necessary pattern. But the pattern may not be exclusively produced
by common descent.
Note - "Different DNA" also may result in similar morphology.
> Question No.4:
> Rich Daniel asks: "If there is a vast gulf between humans and chimps,
> where else could it be but in the genes?" What is wrong with "we
> don't know"? I've read that a population of fruit flies can be
> bred without eyes. However after a few generations the genes for
> eyes reappear. Wouldn't that suggest there might be something more
> involved than genes?
Can't tell without a better description of the system...
The "genes for eyes reappear" or the eyes reappear?
> Isn't the insistence that instincts and behavior are specified in
> the genome based upon the fact that we merely don't know what else
> might control them? Is there any reason to believe a "alltruism
> gene" exists--other than faith that there is a gene for everything?
There is no "gene for everything", but I understand what you mean.
However, the existence of extra-genetic factors is not necessarily
incompatible with selection & evolution. What is means is that
additional mechanism are involved.
> Question No.5:
> New genes are sometimes said to be the result of gene duplication.
Transposons are mobile genetic elements. Often they do
duplicate during "transit". But "gene duplication" simply
describes an event where a copy of one sequence is made --
Transposons may have nothing to do with it. Gene duplication
is but one means by which new genes can made.
> The duplicate gene "decides" or "is recruited" to perform a new
> function. Is anything really explained by that language? What or
> who does the "recruiting"? (Sounds supernatural to me.:-))
Beware of the implied teleology of those words. "Decides" is
improperly used here -- Maybe you heard it as a sloppy slang
used by biologists who attach a slightly different meaning
to the word.
"Recruitment" is not too bad. That alludes to the contingent nature
of variation/selection. A simplistic example: A new variation
arises with altered functions. One of these functions provides
a selective advantage. It gets propagated as a result and
further rounds of variation/selection result in a gene that
provides this new function better. One might say that the old
gene was "recruited" for the new function. Life does the recruiting.
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