"No beneficial mutations"

Common creationist fallacies

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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"No beneficial mutations"

#1  Postby Shrunk » Dec 21, 2011 8:55 pm

Continuing the line of thought in this thread, I here offer an argument against one of the other frequently repeated creationist arguments: The claim that beneficial mutations cannot occur. (I originally wrote this post in the lengthy split from Cali's Radionucleotide Dating thread, but I fear it may have become lost in that imposingly lengthy thread, so I hope you will forgive what may be my vanity in reposting it on its own.)

Image

The above is a mother black bear and her cub. But, you'll notice, the younger black bear isn't actually black. He has a mutation that causes him to have white fur. (The mother also has the mutation, but as it is recessive she does not have white fur. The location of the mutation is actually known and, interestingly, is at the same gene that causes red hair and fair skin in humans.)

Though there is some evidence that the trait is advantageous in some ways (white bears seem to have greater success catching fish) it could not really be called a beneficial mutation, since the large majority of black bears remain, well, black.
However, in a different environment, the situation is quite different:

Image

These, of course, are polar bears (For some reason, polar bears always seem to come to mind when discussing creationists). In their arctic environment the advantage of white fur should be obvious enough that I need not elaborate on it.

The point is this: We know from the above that mutations causing white fur in bears can occur. And it is also apparent that whether this mutation is "beneficial" depends on the evironment in which the bear lives. So for the creationist to maintain that beneficial mutations cannot occur, they are in essence saying that a bear living in a temperate environment can develop a mutation for white fur, but if you move that bear to the Arctic this somehow becomes impossible. Beneficial mutations don't occur, they claim, so by that logic a mutation for white fur can't happen in the Arctic. It can only happen in a setting where it is not beneficial. This claim seems obviously absurd to me.

So, any creationist who offer this argument needs to answer the question: What mysterious force exists that prevents a bear, or any other mammal, from developing white fur only in an environment where this would be beneficial, when it can do this in any other environment?
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#2  Postby kiore » Dec 21, 2011 9:01 pm

The thread title made me think: sickle cell anaemia straight away, but then I am living in malarialand..
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#3  Postby Shrunk » Dec 21, 2011 9:09 pm

kiore wrote:The thread title made me think: sickle cell anaemia straight away, but then I am living in malarialand..


Good example. According to creationist "theory", that mutation should only occur in areas without malaria, where it will not produce a selective advanatage. Yet we see the oppostie.

OTOH, if it is the result of "design," then why does it persist in people who have moved out of malaria-endemic areas, thereby shortening their lifespan?
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#4  Postby The_Metatron » Dec 21, 2011 9:24 pm

I have two ureters per kidney. Twice the drainage, half the risk of kidney stones. Cool.

My Rotherham was on with two functioning thumbs on his left hand. They took one off when he was an infant. Could've been useful.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#5  Postby Atheistoclast » Dec 21, 2011 11:13 pm

So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#6  Postby ramseyoptom » Dec 21, 2011 11:21 pm

Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.



Do I detect the movement of goal posts??

And please explain how a genetic mutation which allows the organism to survive in an environment functionally degrading??
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#7  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Dec 21, 2011 11:21 pm

Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


From here:
http://www.pnas.org/content/106/29/11827.full
However, a detailed survey of SNPs in the human population revealed the presence of a homozygous stop codon within the env gene of ERV-3 in 1% of the population (13), a finding that would be inconsistent with an essential role in placenta formation. Attention turned to a gene dubbed syncytin (14). It corresponds to the env gene of one particular member of the HERV-W family of proviruses (15). It is conserved in evolution and highly expressed in placenta, specifically in the syncytiotrophoblast. When introduced into cultured cells, it can mediate fusion, an activity that can be blocked by addition of antisera directed against syncytin to the media. Subsequently, a second conserved env gene (syncytin-2), highly conserved in evolution and encoded by an endogenous provirus of the HERV-FRD group, also with fusion activity, was identified by a genomewide screen for env genes with ORFs (only 16 were identified) followed by functional testing (16). Detailed SNP analysis yielded no data inconsistent with a functional role for syncytin-1 or syncytin-2 (17).


Simplified for Creotards: The genes were introduced by viruses. The genes are demonstrably useful to the organisms that have inherited them. We see addition of information via natural mechanisms which is useful to the organism bearing the genetic mutation.

Follow the link and learn stuff. :thumbup:
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#8  Postby Atheistoclast » Dec 22, 2011 12:05 am

ramseyoptom wrote:
Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Do I detect the movement of goal posts??

And please explain how a genetic mutation which allows the organism to survive in an environment functionally degrading??


I am white because one of my ancestors lost the ability to produce the dark pigment, eumelanin, in his/her skin cells. The loss of eumelanin helps me absorb more UV in a region far north of the equator so that my body can produce Vitamin D. It is a case of a functionally degrading mutation that proves to be beneficial for survival.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#9  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Dec 22, 2011 12:12 am

Atheistoclast wrote:
ramseyoptom wrote:
Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Do I detect the movement of goal posts??

And please explain how a genetic mutation which allows the organism to survive in an environment functionally degrading??


I am white because one of my ancestors lost the ability to produce the dark pigment, eumelanin, in his/her skin cells. The loss of eumelanin helps me absorb more UV in a region far north of the equator so that my body can produce Vitamin D. It is a case of a functionally degrading mutation that proves to be beneficial for survival.


Unless you are a true albino you still have the capability to produce melanin, but merely in smaller amounts than someone of a darker complextion. :doh:
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#10  Postby Calilasseia » Dec 22, 2011 4:10 am

Atheistoclast wrote:So what?


It makes a mockery of creationist assertions, that's what.

Atheistoclast wrote:The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production.


Please, do tell those of us who paid attention in biology classes something we don't already know.

Atheistoclast wrote:Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation.


Oh it's this duplicitous apologetic fabrication again. Yawn, yawn, fucking yawn. Do I have to bring in Antarctic Notothenioid fishes again, in order to flush this apologetic fabrication down the toilet?

Atheistoclast wrote:The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D.


Which makes a mockery of the "degradation" creationist assertion.

Atheistoclast wrote:Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Antarctic Notothenioid fishes?
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#11  Postby Shrunk » Dec 22, 2011 11:42 am

Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


I'm surprised that you would misrepresent the position of your colleagues in such a blatant manner. For instance, here is a statement from one of the intellectual leaders and chief proponents of creationism, Harun Yahya:

Mutation, which evolutionists frequently hide behind, is not a magic wand that transforms living organisms into a more advanced and perfect form. The direct effect of mutations is harmful. The changes effected by mutations can only be like those experienced by people in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl: that is, death, disability, and freaks of nature…

The reason for this is very simple: DNA has a very complex structure, and random effects can only damage it. Biologist B. G. Ranganathan states:

First, genuine mutations are very rare in nature. Secondly, most mutations are harmful since they are random, rather than orderly changes in the structure of genes;any random change in a highy ordered system will be for the worse, not for the better. For example, if an earthquake were to shake a highly ordered structure such as a building, there would be a random change in the framework of the building, which, in all probability, would not be an improvement.


Not surprisingly, no useful mutation has been so far observed. All mutations have proved to be harmful.


http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/mechanisms06.html

So, if you disagree with his position, I suggest you get your own house in order and convince your fellow creationists that the
claim of "no beneficial mutations" if false, rather than claiming there is agreement on this position among creationists, when clearly there is not.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#12  Postby Rumraket » Dec 22, 2011 3:14 pm

Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.

Define 'information content'.

Define 'functionality'.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#13  Postby Rumraket » Dec 22, 2011 3:33 pm

In any case, Clasties responses in this thread are all a bit of a strawman. He means to imply that because deeply, functionally novel enzymes and proteins don't just pop up in genomes, that means evolution can't happen. In other words, he is trying to imply that large transitions in evolution(say, fish->tetrapod) is contingent on constructing vast quantities of novel and complex structural proteins, new enzymatic function and biochemistry etc. etc.

He's so desperate to deny evolution, and the method by which it proceeds, it got him to write his paper on gene-duplication. His attempt with that paper is to debunk gene-duplication as a major factor in evolution, exactly because a hidden assumption(nowhere stated in the paper, but always implied on forums like these) that the duplicate is required to massively change and produce those novel, highly functionally divergent enzymes and structural proteins.

When it's shown to him that the history of the evolution of life isn't contingent on such massive novel inventions at all, with papers like these: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2011/04/the-true-story.html he'll change the subject to the origin of life and start whining that we don't know how the first genes originated(which is essentially the same argument he's making in the 7SK RNA binding receptor thread).

In other words, he will have moved the goalposts from the attempted claim "evolution can't happen because we don't see large, novel structural proteins and enzymes develop from old ones" (which he wants us to try and defend), to "we actually don't know how some of the fundamental protein superfolds originated", which is technically true but isn't an argument against evolution, the kind of evolution he's so desperate to deny can take place(Ape->Man, Fish->tetrapod, Terrestrial mammal->Whale etc. etc.), at all.

Yes Clastie, you just lost again.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#14  Postby ramseyoptom » Dec 22, 2011 8:12 pm

Atheistoclast wrote:I am white because one of my ancestors lost the ability to produce the dark pigment, eumelanin, in his/her skin cells. The loss of eumelanin helps me absorb more UV in a region far north of the equator so that my body can produce Vitamin D. It is a case of a functionaly degrading mutation that proves to be beneficial for survival.



Ok so I'll bite. Why is the change in expression of the eumelanin producing genes a "functionally degrading mutation"?
Is it because that for you to admit that a change in gene expression which confers a benefit to the organism would be to admit, even if through clenched teeth, that evolution exists?

If we take lactose intolerance, the inability to digest milk, which is present in some form or another in 75% of the world population, yet it is only present in 5% of the northern european population to nearly 90% in asian and african populations. The ability to digest lactose in adulthood, it is normally in very early childhood that lacose intolerance develops, allows access to greater food resources. So again why is this, according to your statements, going to be classed as as "functionally degrading mutation"?

See Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose_intolerance

I suspect that as I stated earlier it means that you are going to have to admit that beneficial mutations exist and that you don't want to do that under any circumstances because it means that to do so your entire intellectual edifice (and I use the word 'intellectual' in its widest sense) is having its foundations kicked out from under it.

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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#15  Postby bert » Dec 22, 2011 8:32 pm

Atheistoclast wrote:So what? The mutations that causes the cub to be white likely inhibits eumelanin production. Even if it is useful in an arctic environment for camouflage, it is still a functionally degrading mutation. The same is true of white-skinned humans whose ancestors migrated out of Africa. It is "beneficial" to lose pigmentation because we can absorb more UV to allow us to produce more Vitamin D. Creationists are fully aware of these mutations. What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Hey Atheistoclast! I give you the opportunity to close your eyes for a fact about added functionality again!

Here's what I wrote in the "The Dolphin: an evolved artiodactyl? The genetics of morphology" thread


Sorry Atheistoclast, I don't have data available on that. Ian Thorpe and Van den Hoogenband don't have kids yet, AFAIK. Experiments are a bit time consuming, as you may know. Doesn't mean we don't have data at all on human evolution:
Tibeteans at high altitude are not just fitter than you or I because they lived at high altitude all their lives, but because they are genetically different.
‪http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2010/07/ ... an_genome/‬
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Isn't there another group of humans living at high altitude? Yup, in the Andes. Guess what, with random mutations and all, they have a different genetic making them more fit to live at high altitude.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#16  Postby dinkum » Dec 22, 2011 8:40 pm

Rumraket wrote:Define 'information content'.

Define 'functionality'.


:this:

"Why is this never done?" he asked while knowing the answer full well.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#17  Postby GeneticJen » Dec 22, 2011 11:49 pm

Atheistoclast wrote:What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Some creationists honestly think it's impossible to add "information", and that mutations only ever subtract information. But mutations are reversible, so...
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#18  Postby Calilasseia » Dec 23, 2011 12:57 am

Peter Harrison wrote:
Atheistoclast wrote:What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Some creationists honestly think it's impossible to add "information", and that mutations only ever subtract information. But mutations are reversible, so...


Heh, I addressed that very point in another post, namely this one, where I covered in detail an instance of where evolutionary pressures resulted in the loss of pelvic armour in sticklebacks, then a change in evolutionary pressures resulted in the reappearance of the lost pelvic armour. Which 'Clast still tried to peddle apologetically as "degradation" and "loss" after this was presented to him. In that earlier post, I wrote the following:

Now, according to Atheistoclast's duplicitous apologetics above, the change from fully armoured to low-armoured fishes was a "loss of information" and "degeneration", which means that the re-emergence of fully armoured status must, logically, constitute a "gain of information", if his apologetics is to be consistent. Of course, we'll see the usual fabrications to try and avoid this conclusion, which of course only arises if one treats his misrepresentation of evolutionary processes, and his canards about "information", as being something other than ex recto assertions on his part.


Lo and behold, he fulfilled my prediction here with a pathetic one-line dismissal.

But then this is par for the course for creationist apologetics. When you subscribe to a doctrine such as creationism, that isn't merely based upon made up shit, but based upon known and manifest lies into the bargain, that has a predictable effect upon the content of your discourse.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#19  Postby Just A Theory » Dec 23, 2011 6:39 am

Peter Harrison wrote:
Atheistoclast wrote:What they want are examples of mutations that add to the information content and functionality of the genome.


Some creationists honestly think it's impossible to add "information", and that mutations only ever subtract information. But mutations are reversible, so...


It's actually even worse than that. Any insertion, any mutation which alters bases away from a homogenous string and any duplication all add to the information content of the genome. It follows then that if any of those are functional in any respect then the mutation has both added information and functionality.

However, the whole thing is actually a bait & switch based on the general public's passing familiarity with Shannon information and that theory's complete inapplicability to DNA and living organisms. Under Kolmorov-Chaitin (algorithmic) information theory, any change which increases the size of the program which specifies the message on a universal turing machine is defined as an increase in information. Thus, a change in DNA sequence from AAA to AAC is an information increase. An insertion of G into AAA to make AGAA is an information increase. A duplication is an increase in information over a single gene but multiple duplications would not be.

Under Shannon information theory by contrast, all modifications to the message are defined as a loss of information because Shannon information theory only examines the effect of noise on a message. In effect, were it to be applied to living systems, Shannon information theory would necessitate the assertion that the original message were perfect in all particulars and contained all of the information applicable to the message. Simple population genetics to analyse the frequency of distribution of alleles makes a mockery of that assertion.

So creationists call for an example 'a mutation that adds information' and then apply the Shannon definition to refute any example which is raised. That tactic is utterly dishonest and incorrect.

Furthermore, creationists of the Dembski persuasion also like to talk about CSI or complex specified information (although the term does have about as much value as the terrible American series of the same name). The clever reader will realise already that, given the definition of information under the K-C model, that complexity arises from an increase in the size of the defining program while specification would rely on completely elucidating such a program. The terms therefore are functionally opposite in meaning.
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Re: "No beneficial mutations"

#20  Postby willhud9 » Dec 23, 2011 6:53 am

Anyone who studies microbiology can disprove the "no beneficial mutation fallacy". In fact, any one who knows anything about replication and/or transcription knows that there is always that percent chance that a base pair is incorrectly placed, which also affects protein synthesis. Very basic biology.
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