A Letter (And Question) from Martin Rag Concerning Unchanged Organisms and Evolutionary Creation

Below is an email I just received from a reader of Evolution 2.0. I loved the insights in his email and at the end of it, he asked a great question about unchanged organisms and Evolutionary Creation.

So instead of responding privately, I thought I’d make this a public conversation for the rest of the community to enjoy.

Here’s the Letter:

 

Dear Perry,

Greetings from Europe!

Please forgive my grammar if there are any mistakes -English is not my first language. 

Let me briefly introduce myself: 

I am a mechanical engineer, and funny enough, you and I are the same age!  I graduated from a technical university and currently, I work a lot with web design, IT / SEO, etc. My father was an injection molds designer (now retired), and I worked with him quite a bite, working with 3D CAD/CAM modeling and so on.

Three years ago, I started studying biology, at home -in the beginning, there was a lot of bad information and liars I had to filter through, but now, biology is has become a true passion of mine.

Among others, I have also purchased your Evolution 2.0 book and I must say, I like your approach! Sure, we engineers see things much differently than biologists and other the “logists” out there, because we engineers know what it takes to actually make something work!

I wish more engineers would study biology so that they have more of an idea of what is going on. By the way, thank you for mentioning the Salem Hypothesis in your book! I feel much more confident now that I know I’m not the only engineer out there exploring this stuff.

My dream would be to see a public debate, where engineers and biologists talk to each other and discuss specific engineering challenges which are so “perfectly” solved by the allegedly “unguided natural process” of biology (engineering topics like RGB image processing, Autofocusing, etc).

I’m curious to see how many design flaws would they actually find in biology? There are like 10,000,000 species out there, and each species has hundreds of parts which work all in harmony with one another -how many design flaws would they find? Ten maybe? I doubt even that! This is SCI-FI engineering!

It’s such an irony, that still, even in the 21st century, biologists and other ‘logists’ research and review such sophisticated technology. I don’t think these guys will ever understand what they are looking at, and talking with some engineers would really help them get a grip.

In the 21st century, we design autonomous cars, smartphones, we fly to Mars, but we are unable to design a miniature, autonomous, self-navigating flying drone the size of a fruit fly.

This, even in the 21st century, is engineering SCI-FI … not to mention, the fact that the fruit fly self-replicates! Self-replication is another level of SCI-FI engineering!

By the way, I know how you feel when it comes to debating atheists.

I’ve been debating evolution theory for our local paper for a long time now and I’ve gotten a lot of personal attacks from atheists over the years… it’s very rough!

Fortunately, I am thick skinned, and I can fight back, very effectively, so most of these guys never come back and debate me again. If you have the right arguments like you and I do, it’s not hard.

I think, most of these guys already know that they are wrong, anyway. They can’t all be that stupid! I think even Richard Dawkins knows that he is wrong (I assume you watched his ‘expelled’-movie confession).

Perry, you have a pretty straightforward DNA code argument. It’s very clear and easy to grasp…  but I think I have one easier still.

I have found a killer article on the first mechanical gear found in nature. When I argue with this, most of these guys just shut up and disappear, or they get frustrated and come up with the classic “Who designed the designer?” question.

Here is the article below:

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a9449/the-first-gear-discovered-in-nature-15916433/

Perry, I would like to discuss a few things with you.. here is my first question:

I know you think that God used evolution to create all the species in existence (evolutionary creation).

So my question is, what do you think of so-called ‘evolutionary stasis’, where we see a lot of organisms unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, fishes, insects, snakes, etc.?

I am aware of what the evolutionary biologists think, but I would like to know what you think.

cheers,

-Martin

What do you think of so-called ‘evolutionary stasis’, where we see a lot of organisms unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, fishes, insects, snakes, etc.?

Martin,

Evolutionary stasis is an inevitable consequence of sexual reproduction. If you stop and think about it, there is no such thing as a “fit” single creature. There are only pairs of parents who are fit, because it takes two to tango.

So for a significant evolutionary change to occur, it must occur in both males and females at the same time.

So think of the difference between dogs vs cats, or giraffes vs. horses, the requirement that coding instructions for a longer neck come through both mother and father presents a stiff barrier for change.

Sexual reproduction is a very “conservative” mechanisms that generates a great deal of minor variation (height, eye color etc) but resists major variations.

So it is no surprise to me that species stay the same for millions of years. What else could you expect?

Please notice that non-sexual organisms like bacteria are very fluid by comparison.

Which brings us to the question: What DOES produce a new species? How do you get something as different as a dog vs. a cat at all?

First I need to confess that my understanding of this is very limited. But as far as I can tell you only get major changes via hybridization events. Emmer wheats + goat grass = modern wheat for example. Or donkey + horse = mule (and it is possible in rare circumstances for a mule to be female as well as male, and be fertile not sterile.)

James Shapiro points out that hybridizations seem much more likely to occur in periods of extreme duress. When are two different species likely to mate? When circumstances are dire and there are no other choices, of course.

It is also very unclear how much of a role epigenetics plays in this. We have barely begun to unravel those mysteries. I suspect it plays a major part.

I see analogous situations in business all the time. It is very hard for businesses or products or music to make significant evolutions without disruptive interjections from the outside.

Bill Gates was a complete outsider to the computer business. Larry and Sergey, founders of Google, were newcomers to the search engine game.

Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express, was a virgin in the shipping industry. Ray Kroc of McDonald’s wasn’t a restaurant veteran; he was a milkshake machine salesman. Lou Gerstner, who engineered a turnaround at IBM, had come from Nabisco and American Express. Before Jack Welch transformed GE, he was a chemical engineer.

Uber = Taxi + Smart Phone + GPS + App. It was a hybrid merger, it was not an incremental result of gradually trying to improve the taxi industry. So this is really a pattern you see across the entire spectrum.

The failure rate of all such mergers is high but once in awhile they famously succeed.

And please notice that until an outside force comes and disrupts, products and industries tend to stay largely the same for long periods of time. Stasis vs. Punctuated Equilibrium happens in all aspects of life not just biology.

 

13 Responses

  1. George Prins says:

    This past month that I have had an astrophysics problem. During the holidays, in the middle of the night my mind came up with this scenario. You may be excellent in using your imagination so feel free to exercise it with me. The story is being used to explain my thoughts.

    The Story of Krystal Starr

    A particular George Firma met a smashing young Italian girl named Terra some years ago. They were married and Terra became pregnant. After the appointed time allowed for these situations, she was rushed to the hospital to have her child. George waited patiently across from the Delivery Room and in a short time the obstetrician’s assistant came out and suggested to the new father that he could come within 15 minutes to congratulate his wife and meet their new daughter, Krystal Starr. George was elated!

    He came into the room only to notice that something was terribly wrong. The baby was not there. The obstetrician tried to explain that the baby had been whisked away to another hospital because of breathing problems. There was concern. The hospital was on the other side of the city, some 45 mins away. Quite suddenly, a nurse received a text message that the baby had arrived. George was flabbergasted. The baby, not quite 15 minutes old was now in another hospital 45 mins away! Was there a scam? He was desperate and became angry. A security guard appeared and quickly ushered him out of the room. Mrs. Terra Firma, visibly shaken, was comforted by the staff.

    George took the elevator down to the main entrance and asked the receptionist for an answer. After a quick twitter, she explained that his new child was in a hospital not 45 mins away but 45 light minutes away, ie, 809,439,637 kms away (about 810 M kms). There had been a small problem in communicating the data. It all could be explained after a third party study on the matter. Does this sound ironic?
    George now had the option to distance himself from this sudden change of events.

    If we multiply the times above to fit the scenerio below:
    Planet Earth was formed some 14.6 B years old and we have been told that the edge of the universe is 45 B light years away. (Absurdly, the Universe is still expanding some 68 km/sec or 250,000 km per hour and still accelerating away.) The articles that I have read on this explain that it does make sense as the universe expanded much faster than the speed of light. However, Einstein ruled that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C9BKJA_enCA620CA620&hl=en-US&ei=gCQxXKWlOomgjwTc_66IBQ&q=how+far+is+the+edge+of+the+universe&oq=how+far+is+the+edge+of+the+universe&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp.3…3786.16086..18001…0.0..0.416.7043.1j29j7j1j2……0….1………0j41j33i22i29i30j0i22i30j0i67j33i21.nffeconGFys

    http://unitconverter.io/kilometers-per-second/kilometers-per-hour/68

    https://www.google.com/search?q=does+time+go+backwards+when+you+go+faster+than+the+speed+of+light&rlz=1C9BKJA_enCA620CA620&oq=does+time+go+backwards+when+you+go+faster+than+the+speed+of+light&aqs=chrome..69i57.24046j1j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8

    Confounded,
    George Prins

  2. martin rag says:

    Hey Perry!

    this is Martin the author of the letter.

    Greetings from Europe.

    Perry, let me add something to my evolutionary stasis question,

    There are species (plants) out there 500 millions of years old. Basically, no change… so what happened to DNA copying errors?

    500 millions of years gone and no copying errors? all good?

    Have a look at how fast humans devolve …. there are over 6,000 genetic disorders, many of which are fatal or severely debilitating.

    500 millions of years? These species should be already dead …

    So, either the species have been re-seeded, or, there is something very wrong with the ET.

    cheers,

    Martin

    • Martin,

      Copying errors will never ever get you a new species. Not without a bunch of natural genetic engineering systems.

      What this means is that the information has been preserved for 500 million years. Which means the error correction systems are more than adequate. This is dealt with in information theory, which says that if you have more than a certain amount of redundancy, you can deal with a specified amount of noise without problem.

      At one level it’s just Claude Shannon 101. At another level it’s the most extraordinary thing in the world because it truly is astonishing that any information based system of any kind could last 3+ billion years. At another level the simple fact that life has lasted 3+ billion years is much more of an engineering achievement than almost anyone acknowledges.

      So yes, the fact of evolution is ‘miraculous’ enough. But the mere preservation and survival of that information is remarkable all by itself.

      • martin rag says:

        Perry,

        you wrote:

        “Which means the error correction systems are more than adequate. ”

        “most extraordinary thing in the world because it truly is astonishing that any information based system of any kind could last 3+ billion years.”

        First off, the error correction system (DNA repair) is an ultimate proof of cell design. Any reasonable person can not deny it.

        However, i don’t quite get you, did you overlook my concern about how fast humans devolve ?

        as for 2019, there is a list of 6000 genetic disorders on wikipedia (and counting)

        Have a look at the latest John Sanford lecture at National Institute of Health (November 2018) …. Q & A at 57:46, how he comments on deep time lineages:

        https://youtu.be/2Mfn2upw-O8?t=3466

        (Obviously, Sanford does not think that the error correction system is more than adequate …)

        Could you one more time comment on that?

        • I will shoot a video soon and reply to this. Thanks for your patience

          • martin rag says:

            Dear Perry,

            this is Martin again.

            You like codes? Have a look at this:

            New Scientist, March 2019:

            “Move over, DNA. Life’s other code is more subtle and far more powerful”

            “It turns out that every type of cell in our bodies has a unique sugar coating. And whenever anything interacts with a cell, it must recognise that sugar code and use the appropriate secret handshake. It happens when bacteria and viruses infect us, when a growing brain cell feels its way past its neighbours, and when our stem cells receive the marching orders that will define what type of tissue they will develop into.”

            https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24132230-300-move-over-dna-lifes-other-code-is-more-subtle-and-far-more-powerful/

            • Good article.

              • martin rag says:

                Perry,

                to be honest, i was only able to read the ‘abstract’, that article is paywalled.

                Here is another one – more technical, but also includes some interesting details on red meat vs. immune system.

                https://theconversation.com/cracking-the-sugar-code-why-the-glycome-is-the-next-big-thing-in-health-and-medicine-97750

                It seems, that all types of cells are ‘tagged’ with a specific sugar sequence.

                A time ago, i have also read another interesting article:

                “Do Cells use Passwords? Do they Encrypt Information?

                https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2018/10/03/432120.full.pdf

              • martin rag says:

                and Perry,

                i don’t know where to post it, but this is serious, and you might be interested in…

                PLOS, April 2019

                “Stress-induced mutation mechanisms, first discovered in bacteria, challenge historical assumptions about the constancy and uniformity of mutation but do not violate strict interpretations of the Modern Synthesis. Mutation is still viewed as probabilistic, not deterministic, but we argue that regulated mutagenesis mechanisms greatly increase the probability that the useful mutations will occur at the right time, thus increasing an organism’s ability to evolve and, possibly, in the right places.

                Assumptions about the constant, gradual, clock-like, and environmentally blind nature of mutation are ready for retirement.”

                https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1007995

                p.s. a very heretic article… sounds like the THIRD WAY …. you should get in touch with the authors of the article….

                • Such ideas are not nearly as heretical as they once were.

                  • martin rag says:

                    Perry,

                    i don’t know where else to post it, so i will continue here.

                    I just heard your review of Behe’s Darwin Devolves book. I purchased it too – to support Behe.

                    Behe brought to my attention another, very interesting thing about the famous flagella.

                    Did you know Perry ( i bet you did not ), that 3 types of flagellum evolved independently ?

                    Yes, that miracle happened 3 times, independently:

                    Bacterial flagellum
                    Eubacterial flagellum
                    Archaeal flagellum

                    These 3 types are evolutionary not related, and evolved independently…

                    Interesting, is it not ?

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_flagella

                    or, did you know that the multicellularity has several independent origins too ?

                    Most people think, that this miracle happened once.. from single cell to complex multicellular organism… only once…

                    No Perry… No…. it happened many times… independently…

                    Let me quote from a very interesting 2019 article:

                    “A fascinating example of convergent phenotypes is multicellularity: it has evolved at
                    least 25–30 times across the pro- and eukaryotes (15–23), reaching a diversity of complexities that range from simple cell aggregates to the most complex macroscopic organisms (24). Instances of the evolution of multicellularity are considered major transitions in evolution—a conceptual label that is difficult to reconcile with repeated origins (15, 17).”

                    “This difficulty follows from the assumption that major transitions are limited by big genetic hurdles and thus should occur rarely during evolution ”

                    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2019/02/14/549758.full.pdf

                    • There’s a book by James Shapiro called “bacteria as multi-cellular organisms” and it explains the colonizing behavior of independent cells. He shows that the range from unitary organism to multi-cellular is a continuum and not a black and white phenomenon.

                      Intelligent Design people are skeptical that multicellularity would be able to “accidentally” evolve multiple times but I don’t see life the way ID people typically do. I see life as being sentient and willful and inherently able to change itself. None of this happens by chance, and symbiogenesis experiments are successfully done in the lab.

                      I think you would find Shapiro’s book interesting.

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