Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Debate Part 1

Hey Everybody!

I have been having a debate with a creationist named Dave Lone Ranger on Free Republic (read it here). We agreed to each present three evidences for our viewpoints. After that, the opposing speaker would respond, and the presenting speaker would get the last word. I went first, and presented my case for evolution as follows:

When you see this (1) that is there to denote the passage. A reference will be posted at the bottom.

Evidence #1 The Fossil Record

When you start off with a 5 toed horse like animal, then higher up in the strata find a 4 toed horse like animal, then a 3 toed, then a single toed, what does that mean to you? The Geologic column is riddled with example after example of this. Here is the infamous horse series:


Here are other examples:




The Sea Sloths

Why is the fossil record littered with sequences that just so happen to be in an order that makes them look like they evolved? I cannot make sense of it without evolution. In fact, I think anyone who saw these sequences would suggest evolution, had it not already been proposed so long ago.

Evidence #2 ERV’s

Another Major line of Evidence is the Endogenous retroviruses (ERV’s). About 8 percent of our genome is made up of these ERV’s(1). On a rare occasion a virus will insert itself into it’s host’s genome at random(2), and the host’s descendants will inherit this and have the virus in their genome. Our genome is 3 billion base pairs, so it is extremely unlikely that any creature would share the exact same virus in the exact same place in the genome. But yet humans and primates do have the same viruses in the same places in their genome.(3)

1. http://www.retrovirology.com/content/3/1/67
2. The Blue Lollipops show the regions that HIV has inserted:

Full article:
NOTE: When it says “distinct target site preference” it does not refer to one specific place, but rather a very wide range of places (the gene, the promoter of the gene).

3. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/96/18/10254

Evidence #3 Embryological Evidence

Now, the first thing I want to make perfectly clear is that I am NOT referring to Haeckel’s work nor to his long discarded theory. Ontogeny does not recapitalate Phylogeny, but there are some interesting similarities in development which I believe are best explained by evolution.

Mammal Kidneys

Mammal Embryos develop 3 sets of kidneys(1). The first, pronephros, is the same set found in primitive fish like Lampreys.(2)
After 3.5 weeks, the mammal embryo replaces it. The second set, the mesonephros, is the same set found in higher fish and amphibians. In human males it gives rise to urogenital structures, while in females the remnants are vestigial. The third set (Metanephros) is the set which develops and becomes the adults set of kidneys, and it is the same set found in mammals and birds.

Other Evidence

Snakes as well as Dolphins are known to develop legs as embryos, only to reabsorb them later. (3)

Whales Develop hair as embryos, only to discard it later (except for the nosehair) (4)

1. http://www.uoguelph.ca/zoology/devobio/210labs/kidney2.html
2. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9061539/pronephros
All Kidneys are listed here:
3. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section2.html#ontogeny_ex3
4. http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol20/94_origin_of_whales_and_the_power_12_30_1899.asp

That's it!!

After this was posted, another member challenged me on the ERV's, claiming that insertion was not random. However, if you read the paper he cites, you will notice that it says the "envelope genes" are used in reproduction. So this isn't a case of a fully functional ERV, rather a case of exaptation. This material in the genome was used for another function.

Dave is not done with his rebuttal yet, but I do plan on keeping everyone updated!


Anonymous said...

Great blog, Ryan - you've done a wonderful job summarizing creationist nonsense - aside from TalkOrigins, I don't think I've seen a more thorough resource out there in organizing the knowledge that renders creationism bunk, and your more specific focus against AiG is superb.

(P.S. you misspelled 'exaptation' in this entry (oops)!)

Anonymous said...

Great job, Ryan. I've been following this "great debate" to some degree and am fascinated by the reactions of the creationists at FR. It's also pretty clear to Dave is in over his head.

Anonymous said...

The following quote has been ripped way out of context:

Whale evolution is one of the more incredible (literally, not credible) tenets of modern evolutionary theory. University of Michigan paleontologist Philip D. Gingerich was quoted in National Geographic as saying that whales are "so different from other warm-blooded, furry things that it's been a mystery both how they came to live in the sea and what ancestors they might have come from on land."

Here's the source article at National Geographic.

Notice, in the very next paragraph, how the article describes that some of the mystery has been solved.

On page two of the article, Gingerich is quoted as saying:

"Over and over again, we'd get the same backbones, but the parts we needed were gone," says Gingerich, who speculates that ancient sharks scavenged those parts before the bones became fossilized.

Finally last October, on their first morning at a new field site in Pakistan, Gingerich's team found a whale ankle bone that could answer the artiodactyl question.

The bone was so clearly like that of an artiodactyl that Gingerich—who previously had embraced the view that whales evolved from mesonychid condylarths—struggled for months to make sense of it, finally concluding without question that whales had artiodactyls' ankles.

"Now I even admit the possibility that hippos are a side line of artiodactyls that might be closer to the whales than any other living animals," he said.

Gingerich said the legs and feet of the primitive whales were not designed for walking long distances.

"It's clear that these animals could hitch their way out of water and back in, like sea lions do today, but they were more aquatic than I realized," Gingerich said.

Q: How do you know when a Creationist is lying?

A: When he posts to the Internet.

AIGBusted said...

I misspelled exaptation? I suck! I'll fix it in a second : )

Oh, and Mr. Anonymous, thanks for pointing that out to me. I'd already noticed that Dave was mistaken about Whales evolving from Mesonychids or Artiodactyls (Artiodactyls are a sister clade of cetaceans).

Anonymous said...

This is the eighth or ninth day since you posted your evidences, and still no response from Dave. He says you have given him an extension.

Can we expect the first round to be completed by the end of the year?

AIGBusted said...

I did indeed give him an extension. I know some people expect the worst of him, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow a little more time. It can't hurt anything, and if he is lying (I'm not saying he is), it won't hurt me at all.