Re: Dembski poses 10+1 questions for PZ Myers
- From: "Dr.Gary Hurd" <garyhurd@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 05:54:59 -0700 (PDT)
On May 31, 1:22 pm, "Steven L." <sdlit...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
PZ Myers is going to Glasgow to lecture on evolution.
Dembski is asking his fans there to attend Myers' lecture and pose the
following questions to Myers:
10+1 Questions for Professor Myers:
1) In light of the Darwinian evolutionary paradigm, can you account for
the observation that the eggs [sic; "embryos"?] of the five classes of
vertebrate (i.e. fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) begin
markedly different from each other? While the cleavage patterns in four
of the five classes show some general similarities, the pattern in
mammals is very different. Furthermore, in the gastrulation stage, a
fish is very different from an amphibian,while both are starkly
different from reptiles, birds and mammals, which are somewhat similar
to each other. Doesn’t Darwinism predict a pattern wherein the earliest
stages are the most similar and the later stages are the most different?
2) Kalinka et al. (2010) have documented that the developmental
hourglass model (which describes the observation that embryogenesis
within a phylum diverges most extensively during early and late
development, while converging in the middle) holds true even with
respect to patterns of gene expression, which has a central role in
elaboration of different animal forms. Given that mutations affecting
the earliest stages of development are the least likely to be
evolutionarily tolerated, would you please explain how you would account
for this observation in terms of evolutionary rationale?
3) Could you please explain the sheer lack of congruence between
anatomical homology and developmental pathways / precursors? Since such
congruence is a prediction of neo-Darwinism,why isn’t it observed?
Moreover, not only are there different embryological (i.e.
non-homologous) processes and different genetic mechanisms to apparently
homologous organs. But there is also the conundrum of homologous genetic
mechanisms for analogous (i.e. non-homologous) organs. And then there is
also the problem of homologous structures arising from different
embryological sources, utterly undermining the evolutionary explanation.
Isn’t the most straightforward reading of these facts that the adult
organs have not been derived from a common ancestor? Why is it that you
are happy to use those instances where embryological development and
adult similarities are consistent as evidence of common descent, but set
aside those instances where they are not consistent?
4) Could you please explain the near-total absence of evidence for
evolutionarily relevant (i.e. stably heritable) large-scale variations
in animal form, as required by common descent? “Near-total”, that is,
because losses of structure are often possible. But common descent
requires the generation of anatomical novelty. Why is it the case that
all observed developmental mutations that might lead to macroevolution
(besides the loss of an unused structure) are harmful or fatal?
5) Would you please explain why the purported embryological evidence for
evolution is not subject to careful cherry picking of data, given that
instances can be identified in which, for example, tissues arise during
development in the opposite order from which they are presumed to have
evolved (e.g. the formation of teeth after the tongue whereas it is
thought that the teeth evolved first; and various vertebrate organs such
as liver and lung develop embryologically in quite different ways from
how it is thought they evolved)?
6) Would you please explain instances of species which possess similar
adult forms but different immature forms, which could conform with
recapitulation only if the species evolved convergently? Related to this
is the observation that similar phylotypic stages and/or adult
morphologies may be attained by very different developmental routes.
Don’t such observations demonstrate that the view of development being
an exclusively divergent process of increased specialisation is false?
7) Would you please elaborate on how a reproductively-capable embryo can
evolve by virtue of successive but slight modification while retaining
selectable utility at every stage? Paul Nelson discussed the concept of
ontogenetic depth in some detail here and here. He also responded to
your criticisms of his article, and the somewhat ironic charge of
8 ) On your blog, you have defended the central dogmatist (gene-centric)
view that an organism’s DNA sequence contains both the necessary and
sufficient information needed to actualise an embryo’s final morphology.
If your position is so well supported and the position espoused by
Jonathan Wells (and others) is so easily refuted, then why do you
perpetually misrepresent his views? For example, you state “These
experiments emphatically do not demonstrate that DNA does not matter …
[Wells'] claim is complete bunk.” Where has Jonathan Wells stated that
DNA “does not matter”? Moreover, contrary to your assertions, the
phenomenon of genomic equivalence is a substantial challenge to the
simplistic “DNA-is-the-whole-show” view espoused by the majority of
neo-Darwinists. Cells in the prospective head region of an organism
contain the same DNA as cells in the prospective tail region. Yet head
cells must turn on different genes from tail cells, and they “know”
which genes to turn on because they receive information about their
spatial location from outside themselves — and thus, obviously, from
outside their DNA. So an essential part of the ontogenetic program
cannot be in the organism’s DNA, a fact that conflicts with the
DNA-centrism of neo-Darwinism. Some attempts to salvage DNA programs
(e.g. Rinn et al.) rely on “target sequences” — molecular zipcodes, if
you will — of amino acids that direct proteins to particular locations
in the cell. But such “molecular zipcodes” do not create a spatial
co-ordinate system, they presuppose it.
9) If, as is often claimed by Darwinists, the pharyngeal pouches and
ridges are indeed accurately thought of as vestigial gill slits (thus
demonstrating our shared ancestry with fish), then why is it that the
‘gill-slit’ region in humans does not contain even partly developing
slits or gills, and has no respiratory function? In fish, these
structures are, quite literally, slits that form openings to allow water
in and out of the internal gills that remove oxygen from the water. In
human embryos, however, the pharyngeal pouches do not appear to be ‘old
structures’ which have been reworked into ‘new structures’ (they do not
develop into analogous structures such as lungs). Instead, the
developmental fate of these locations includes a wide variety of
structures which become part of the face, bones associated with the ear,
facial expression muscles, the thymus, thyroid, and parathyroid glands
(e.g. Manley and Capecchi, 1998).
10) Why do Darwinists continue to use the supposed circuitous route
taken by the vas deferens from the testes as an argument for common
descent when, in fact, the route is not circuitous at all? The testes
develop from a structure called the genital ridge (the same structure
from which the ovaries develop in females, which is in close proximity
to where the kidneys develop). The gubernaculum testis serves as a cord
which connects the testes to the scrotum. As the fetus grows, the
gubernaculum testis does not, and so the testis is pulled downward,
eventually through the body wall and into the scrotum. The lengthening
vas deferens simply follows. And, moreover, before the vas deferens
joins the urethra, there needs to be a place where the seminal vesicle
can add its contents.
Note: I have omitted the "+1" question because it's an ad hominem
attack not worth responding to.
-- Steven L.
I am not a developmental biologist at all, but I think I can answer #s
4, & 10, and at least challenge #s 5, & 9.
I'll read the thread now (as I suppose these have all been answered).
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