|email - August 2018|
Is there an explanation (other than evolution from a common ancestor) which explains similarity of some species?
Tony proposed an alternative to the theory of evolution and asked us to critique it. Parts of it are technical—but we will translate those parts into plain English before addressing them. He used unnumbered bullets, which we have changed to numbered bullets to make it easier to refer to each of his points. Other than the change to the bullet formatting, here’s exactly what he wrote.
Usually when I email you, I am sending you a link that I thought was interesting. This time, though, I wanted to talk about biology. I realize that your site does not promote any alternative to Evolution, but merely points out why the Theory of Evolution is wrong. However, if the giant is to be supplanted, something must fill the place it occupied; some theory that answers all of the same questions and more. So, I would like to propose a Hypothesis, and have you tear it apart for me. I'm not a formal science writer, so forgive me if I do not use the correct concise verbiage.
I propose that:
1. DNA is a modular information project, wherein each chunk of genetic information contains the instruction for a particular, specified function.
2. This DNA coding standard will be repeated across all forms of life.
3. That any Function will have parameters that will affect the output of the Function when it is expressed.
4. That while real time parameter changes will temporarily alter the Function output or expression, the Function itself will remain unaltered.
5. That some Functions will have variables, or expression modifiers, that can be conserved or inherited both inside the species and to its progeny.
6. That these Function variables are constrained to within hard limits, as if using a -1 to 1 scale.
7. That these Functions will have quality control processes that attempt to validate incoming parameter variables.
8. That the sum total of the output in all valid combinations of Functions represents the possibility space for life as we know it.
9. That Function design will largely be conserved across all species requiring similar function, regardless of heredity. In short, functionality is more important than descent.
10. That no natural process will add Functions to a species that it did not already possess.
11. Because of the critical importance of Function design, multiple processes will be used to prevent and/or repair mutated code.
12. That coding mutations will overwhelmingly cause the Function to malfunction, at best being benign, at worst harming or killing the organism.
13. That the cellular environment modifies Function expression as a [sic] input parameter.
14. That there will be no non-functional code. If a code appears non-functional, it will generally be a function we have not discovered yet.
15. That where DNA is the Functional Code, Proteins are material expression.
16. That we can not, as of yet, scientifically prove where the information source for DNA originated.
17. That living organisms will be subject to the laws of physics as they are the information environment in which their functional programming was designed to operate.
18. That the information density in even a single living cell will be too complex to be reduced to mere chance.
19. That Natural Selection can not create new information.
20. That Natural Selection may account for inherited variation of conserved Functional Parameters.
21. That each species will contain a set of baseline parameters that are unique to their species, and fundamentally incompatible with other species, resulting in stillborn or sterile offspring should they be produced at all.
22. That Functions within a strand of DNA can interact and influence other Functions by altering input parameters.
23. Life is very dependent upon time and timing. Function timing will be tightly controlled.
24. It is impossible for life to evolve, increase in complexity, without the addition of information.
25. There is no known natural process for increasing biological information.
26. If deleterious mutations are conserved, and no new information is being added to the genome, we are in a process of devolution, not evolution.
For the TLDR [Too Long, Didn’t Read] version: What happens if we view DNA, and all creatures in existence, as if they were objects in an objected oriented programming language instead of this other [evolutionary] fairy tale?
His last sentence is the most important one, but we will address all 26 of his lesser points first.
Points 1 and 2 simply say that the DNA molecule is a collection of many individual pieces (chunks) of information. These chunks of information are used by living things to perform biological processes. This is true of all DNA in all forms of life. We believe everyone would agree upon these points. Tony goes beyond this and recognizes the similarity of genes to object-oriented modules in a computer program.
Points 3 through 6 are not as simple. Let’s try to explain what Tony is saying using lungs as an example. The function of a lung is to inhale and extract oxygen from the air, insert the oxygen into the bloodstream, extract carbon dioxide from the blood, and exhale it. This may be harder to do at high altitudes, so one might have to breathe harder and more often, but that doesn’t change the fact that the lung is still operating properly. But, if one were to ascend to an exceedingly high altitude, one would eventually reach the limit at which point the lung would be unable to function. Points 3 through 6 are clearly true. Reading between the lines (and reading ahead) Tony seems to realize that the genes that produce lungs in one species should not be very much different from genes that produce lungs in any other species.
Point 7, regarding the validation of inputs, is a little vague; but I think I know what he means. My office used to be down the hall from the chemistry wing, which always stunk. I once asked one of the chemists working in that wing if he worried about smelling poisonous gases. He replied, “I worry about NOT smelling poisonous gases.” Our noses “attempt to validate incoming” air, and we try not to breathe it if it smells wrong. I think that is Tony’s point. There is cooperation between the nose, brain and lung to prevent biological damage. If so, we agree. In an object-oriented computer program, there are well-defined interfaces which allow different objects to work together. Perhaps that is where Tony is going with his email.
Point 8 was more elegantly expressed by the Beatles. “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.” It is a self-evident statement.
Point 9 says, in effect, that every animal that lives in water needs gills (or something else that can extract oxygen from water) and every animal that lives on land needs lungs (or something else that can extract oxygen from air). The environment determines what functionality an animal needs to have to survive. Things that can’t live underwater simply can’t live under water. There is no argument there. Is Tony thinking that every program that runs on a Windows computer needs to be able to recognize a mouse click, and so every program could use the same software object to do that?
Point 10, “That no natural process will add Functions to a species that it did not already possess,” is controversial. We believe that statement to be true, but we can’t prove it. Fortunately, we aren’t the ones who need to prove it. The theory of evolution is based upon the premise that there is a natural process that does add functionality. The burden of proof is on them—not us. Just give one example of a natural process that has added functionality that did not previously exist. There is no example. Since there is not a single example of a natural process that adds new functionality, it is reasonable to believe that it can’t happen.
Point 11, “Because of the critical importance of Function design, multiple processes will be used to prevent and/or repair mutated code,” isn’t exactly true; but only because of the way it is stated. Yes, it is well known that biological processes do, in many cases, prevent and/or repair mutated code—but the reason for that (“the critical importance of Function design”) is pure conjecture. The mere fact that something happens isn’t proof that it happens for the reason you believe it happens. That’s a mistake evolutionists make frequently. They observe something that really happens, and they believe it happened because of natural selection (or whatever they think) without reason.
Point 12 claims that most mutations are harmful or inconsequential, which is true. It is also true that there are rare beneficial mutations—but that’s not the issue. The issue is whether or not there are CREATIVE mutations, not beneficial mutations. A mutation may cause an existing physical appendage to be bigger or smaller, and being bigger or smaller might be advantageous in a particular environment. Evolution depends upon a mutation creating a previously non-existent functionality to arise accidentally. There has never been a scientific observation of this happening.
Evolutionists tend to combine points 11 and 12. For example, they recognize that some animals have eyes, and some don’t. Therefore, they believe that eyes must have evolved because of a creative mutation. Then, they claim the existence of eyes is proof that eyes arose by a chance creative mutation. That’s not scientific reasoning.
I’m not really sure what Tony is getting at in point 13. Yes, the environment does affect biology. Bears do hibernate in the winter. The cold changes their metabolism. So, what?
We disagree with point 14 because there probably is some (but not much) non-functional DNA. We agree that biologists do not currently know the function of some parts of the DNA molecule; but that doesn’t mean it isn’t functional. As time goes by, we expect biologists to discover the function of many parts of the DNA molecule which were once designated as “junk DNA.” But, as Tony said in point 12, some mutations are harmful—but not harmful enough to kill the organism. We suspect that a small fraction of the DNA in some creatures was previously functional, but has been damaged beyond repair by mutations. However, this lack of functionality was not bad enough to kill the species.
Point 15. Yes, DNA is functional, and it does contain the instructions for building proteins, and probably more functionality that biologists have not yet deciphered.
Points 16, 18 and 25. Yes, science can’t prove where the information in DNA originated. However, information science teaches us a lot about the transfer of information from a source to a destination through a communication channel via an encoding mechanism understood by both the source and the destination. There are no known instances of an encoding mechanism arising by chance, and no known instances of information arising by chance. Monkeys have not yet typed out all the works of Shakespeare, and they never will.
Point 17. It is a fact that everything is subject to the laws of physics, including those laws limiting the rate and amount of information that can be passed through a communication channel of a given bandwidth. It is reasonable to believe that the intercellular communications were designed (because there are no examples of communication channels which have arisen by chance); but there is no scientific proof that they were designed. Again, the burden of proof is on the evolutionists to prove that communication channels of sufficient bandwidth can arise by chance.
Point 19. Evolutionists don’t claim that Natural Selection creates information. They claim that Natural Selection filters information, keeping the good information and rejecting the bad information.
Point 20. Yes, Natural Selection will affect the distribution of existing characteristics in a population, causing some desirable characteristics to be more prevalent than less desirable characteristics in that locality.
Point 21. The species problem is complex, as we discussed in the feature article of last month’s newsletter. In general, breeding attempts between different species rarely results in fertile offspring.
Point 22. Yes, various genes interact often with each other.
Point 23. I think that Tony is trying to say that, for example, the DNA in an embryo causes features to develop according to a prescribed timeline. That is certainly true.
Point 24. Species certainly do evolve, to some extent. Our essay on the Kentucky Derby Limit showed how thoroughbred race horses evolved the ability to run faster until they reached the limit. But the horses did not become more complex, nor did they gain information. Selective breeding got rid of everything that slowed the horses down, until there wasn’t anything left that prevented the horses from running at their full potential.
Point 26. Yes, devolution happens—but it is usually referred to as “extinction.” (Yes, there are other causes of extinction. We aren’t talking about those.) The more functionality a species loses, the less its chance of survival.
Tony’s final point probably made no sense to you. He phrased it that way because he knows I (Do-While Jones) was (before I retired) an internationally recognized Ada expert. Ada is an object-oriented computer programming language (which encouraged the use of “do-while” structured programming).
In my 1989 book, Ada in Action, I advocated the use of reusable software components. Instead of writing one big, long, incomprehensible program, the Ada programming language makes it easy to write small, individual software objects, which can be individually tested and used as building blocks in the final program. Not only that, the individual software objects can be reused in other programs, which greatly speeds program development because you don’t have to create and test things you have already done in the past.
Tony is hinting at the idea that the similarity in species is not due to a common ancestor. Perhaps the similarity is because a designer wisely chose to reuse chunks of DNA code to create identical functionality in a variety of species which have no common ancestor. Tony probably read my book, and he thinks that if Do-While Jones had created all life on Earth, DWJ would have created DNA by reusing the same genes in lots of different creatures in different combinations to give the same basic functionality to all forms of life, with a few unique genes to create individuality and variety between species. Tony is right. That’s what I would have done.
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Disclosure, July 2018, “All Together Now”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v22i10f.htm
2 Disclosure, June 1999, “The Kentucky Derby Limit”, http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v3i9f.htm