Friday, November 14, 2008

Symposium on Evolution

I watched some videos from the Evolution Symposium that was held this spring at Rockefeller University. I found it pretty interesting in the sense that the researchers are at a loss to interpret the findings of the last dozen years of genome sequencing and other scientific discoveries. What could be a victorious meeting for Darwinists from all our new knowledge is anything but, because the molecular make-up is not confirming materialistic, naturalistic evolution. The facts do not match their ideas of slowly evolving micro-organisms. They now say the microbes switched genes "rampantly," yet we know that organisms stay as true species throughout time. If the biologists would analyze the present situation objectively, they would say that total-natural evolution is falsified at this time. Falsification is a philosophical outlook advocated by Karl Popper which says that theories are scientific if you can devise experiments that show whether the theory is true or false. Instead, biologists these days do not allow Intelligent Design theory into the science classroom because "it can't be falsified." What does falsification matter if they won't recognize when it happens anyway?

Then I got to the lecture by Katherine Pollard about her group's research of human accelerated regions, or HARs. The information came out in 2006, but I was not aware of the details. If you know something about RNA and DNA, are interested in the question about evolution of humans from chimps and have a half-hour or so, please watch it at the above link. Or if you prefer, a full article of one of her papers and an abstract of another, (Katherine Pollard, et al., An RNA gene expressed during cortical development evolved rapidly in humans, Nature, August 16, 2006.) are at these links.

Pollard, Salama et al. did a study on sequences of genes which were detected as the same throughout many vertebrates, including chicken and mice, but different between chimps and humans. These areas could be better compared now since entire sequences have been completed in many organisms and they have more powerful computers to sift through all the data. They found several gene sections with significant changes. The changes in the gene sections, called bases, were far above expected in the normal mutation rates of genes that happen with each new generation. For example, while only .27 were expected, 18 happened in the HAR1 segment. The HAR stands for Human Accelerated Regions and the HAR1 codes for an RNA molecule, which you can see on the bottom right in the illustration below. RNA molecules can have either coding (for protein) and non-coding jobs. The most strikign thing is that the changes were all the same, from the T-A pairing to the C-G pairing (there are only 2 types of pairing on the DNA strand and all previously known mutations have occurred equally in both directions). The HAR1 is found to be active in human brain development in the embryo in critical times of its development.

One can not imagine the importance of this discovery. In one of the papers, an explanation was attempted. They said perhaps it is because the genes are at the end of the chromosome where recombination takes place. The C-G bonds are stronger than the T-A and so maybe they survive better. If that were the case, all organisms would have these bonds at the end of their chromosomes by now after millions and millions of years. A check on the rest of the genome showed that mutations are totally balanced except in these HAR regions (shown in the video). These genes were discovered for the very reason that they stayed the same for hundreds of millions of years and then changed dramatically over only a supposed time of 5 million years or so. That is the time from the proposed last common ancestor of the human and chimp. With only about 10^12 (Michael Behe) or no more than 10^17 (Fredric Nelson) individuals to work with, the number of combinations on the HAR1 (118 bases), much less the other HARs, would be very unlikely to produce the language, mental abilities and other improvements of the brain through random mutation and selection.

At the end of her presentation, Pollard said their findings lead to the conclusion that evolution researchers will have to seek other "directional forces" besides the ones they have previously believed would give the answers. In so many words, she says Darwinism, or neo-Darwinism, is not the answer for explaining the human body. However, this same pronouncement was made by mathematicians in a conference at the Wistar Institute in 1966, not long after the structures of DNA and proteins were understood. The question will be just how long evolutionists can ignore that these are not random processes.

Update 5:20 -- I'm now calling totally naturalistic, materialistic evolution "total-natural evolution."

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