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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Genome mapping: Oldest animals "more complex than thought"

In The Scientist, Melissa Lee Phillips writes:
The genome of the sea anemone, one of the oldest living animal species on Earth, shares a surprising degree of similarity with the genome of vertebrates, researchers report in this week's Science.

The study also found that these similarities were absent from fruit fly and nematode genomes, contradicting the widely held belief that organisms become more complex through evolution. The findings suggest that the ancestral animal genome was quite complex, and fly and worm genomes lost some of that intricacy as they evolved.

One really interesting example of the pervasiveness of Darwinism in academic culture is the inability (due to fear mainly, I should think) to spell out the implications of such findings except in a veiled way (the "more complex than thought" schtick).

Let's go over the argument: The Gospel according to Charles Darwin teaches that life originated and complexified by natural selection acting on random mutations over vast eons. In other words, there was a slow increase in complexity. As the item in The Scientist clearly spells out, in this case we actually see here huge complexity near the beginning of life, with losses among complex diversified species such as fruit flies. In other words, evolution meant reduced complexity. And the original complexity came from where, exactly?

No wonder there is an intelligent design controversy! It would actually be dangerous to a scientist's career to discuss these matters openly.
If you are interested in why there is an intelligent design controversy, and why it can't just go away, check out my book, By Design or by Chance?

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Chimps: 99% Chimpanzee claim admitted to be myth

David Tyler discusses the recent startling admission that the claim that humans share 99% of our genes with chimpanzees has long been known to be wrong:
For over 30 years, the public have been led to believe that human and chimpanzee genetics differ by mere 1%. This 'fact' of science has been used on innumerable occasions to silence anyone who offered the thought that humans are special among the animal kingdom. "Today we take as a given that the two species are genetically 99% the same." However, this "given" is about to be discarded. Apparently, it is now OK to openly acknowledge that those who are involved in this research have never been comfortable that the 1% figure was an accurate summary of the scientific information. But more recent studies have made it impossible to sustain the old orthodoxy. They have raised "the question of whether the 1% truism should be retired."

The claim should actually never have been made, for reasons that Jonathan Marks addresses in What does it mean to be 98% chimpanzee?. So why was it made?
It is comments like these that can give sociologists of science a field day, for they reveal how social context influences what results are emphasised and what are overlooked. In this particular case, evolutionary biologists need to take full responsibility. It is good to see a start being made in setting the record straight. Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, writes: "DNA is beside the point. To concede so much to biology risks taking such privileges away from ourselves. [. . .] Chimps may resemble Homo sapiens in a tedious and literal sense, but in everything that makes us what we are H sapiens is unique indeed. Biology, in its proof of our physical similarity to other primates, underlines its own irrelevance."

O come on, Jones! For many years now the similarity was used not to underline biology's irrelevance but ours. That was not an accident either, it was the promotion of materialist propaganda in the guise of science. And the schtick is being retired now because no one was prepared to believe it. Want to know why? How about the rabbi's reflections on sharing your genes with the chimp and the banana.

Tyler addresses the details in his most interesting post.

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