Thanks Morny, I appreciate your direct responses to my questions.
Kurieuo wrote:I do wonder whether by "common ancestry" many do believe that necessitates a natural evolving from an ancestor.
Interestingly, if it does, then it can't be used as evidence for evolution because it kind of becomes a circular tautology.
So I expect that by "common ancestry" most just means a shared biology of sorts.
At least, that to me seems the most logically coherent view.
And so evidence for "common ancestry" is just as much evidence for evolution, as it is evidence for God making use of previously biological templates.
If scientists just saw shared biological templates (I'm trying to use your terminology) among living species, then I don't see a flaw in your reasoning, i.e., preferring common descent to any of the various creationist models would be a matter of faith, not science.
But the evidence supporting common descent includes one more absolutely crucial point, viz., those species share biological "templates" according to one objective nested hierarchy, or much more loosely speaking, "the tree of life".
For example, having mammary glands predicts having other traits: 4-chambered heart, 3 ossicles in each ear, hair follicles. And those traits do not
appear in reptiles, fish, or (thankfully) maple trees.
Grouping living species according to many thousands of such traits consistently gives the same
"tree of life". Such amazing consistency is powerful evidence supporting the hypothesis of a common ancestor that recursively split into separate species (bifurcating descent). Once a branch of the tree in the distant past produces a new trait, e.g., 4-chambered heart, that trait can pass down to all the descendants on down to present day animal species.
As I've said before, God can do whatever she wants, but as far as biological traits go, she seems adamant about following the pattern that common descent predicts.
A simple tree example:http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/l ... hies.shtml
A "more information than you wanted" tree example: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/feature/data/tol
As I'm understanding you, you're saying what we have is not just shared "biological templates" if-you-will.
Rather lifeforms look to have pattern of actually being tied into each other, rather than two lifeforms simply making use of the same biological code.
To be of my own beliefs, it is not that God created a "biological template" that stands on its own --
that God then took this template and built two new life forms from it.
Rather, it would be more that the ancestor of two species is the "biological template" if you will.
So God takes something pre-existing, adds to it and moulds some brand new life.
So whereas Naturalists believe all the mechanisms to be natural,
I'd say a driving mechanism for new biological information and function is intervention.
Something new being created from what already existed plus God's added input and tweaking.
Previously, my view was that God created every new "species" (however we define such) in essentially ex nihilo
I found endogenous retroviruses to be quite powerful evidence for common descent, such that it had me searching for answers.
Over the years as new knowledge became available, transposable elements (which ERVs are) do not randomly insert themselves but appear to attach to hotspots in the genome. Further, they actually appear to serve a purpose to protect. Therefore it seems to be that while apparently "random" it seems purposeful design is more suggestive.
That said, when first presented to me, ERVs challenged my previously held beliefs on how God created.
Then, I read an article by Rich Deem discussing pseudogenes
. His words challenged me further.
Challenged me because he didn't see God's method of creation as God just creating brand new from nothing previous
Rich Deem wrote:Evolutionists' assumptions about God
Does the presence of pseudogenes eliminate the possibility that God created life? To come to this conclusion, there are some assumptions that are implicit in the evolutionists' argument. The first assumption is that God would only create new creatures by producing an entirely new copy of DNA. In other words, DNA would be expected to be completely redesigned from any previously existing organism. Is this the way God works? We know from science that the Sun is a second generation star - formed from the remains of a supernova. For this reason, the Solar System is highly metal enriched, which is required for the existence of life on earth.11 Therefore, God does reuse material when designing "new" structures. When Jesus made wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), He did not begin with nothing or air, but began with water. Part of the water was changed into alcohol, but greater than 80% of the original water was unchanged. When God brings a person to salvation, He does not change the genetics or physical makeup of the individual. The person remains in the same body - often a body that has been ravaged by the effects of a lifetime of sinful behavior.
A good analogy in the design of a genetic code is the design of computer programs. I do a significant amount of computer programming as part of my job. When I write programs, I always reuse sections of code in the new programs. I do not begin by writing an entire program from scratch. This would be silly, and highly inefficient. The computer program consists of the GUI (graphical user interface) and the code that performs the actual computations. This is analogous to biological organisms. The GUI is the phenotype (the way the organism looks) and the code that performs the computations is the biochemical pathways. If one Designer created all biological organisms, we would expect to see similar genetic code for both phenotype and biochemical pathways. This is a good argument in favor of monotheism as opposed to polytheism.
A creationary model for genetic similarity
The Bible says that God created humans from the dust of the earth.12 This statement suggests that humans were designed from preexisting material. I propose that part of this "dust" consists of the genetic code of previously existing organisms. If you were going to create a new species of primate, you would begin with primate DNA. This DNA would be altered to form the unique characteristics of the new species. I believe that this is the method that God used to create new species of life on earth. How does this differ from evolution driven through natural selection and how can you distinguish the two methods? Naturalistic evolution could, in theory, produce some of the changes in structures that would account for some of the phenotypic differences observed between the old and new species. However, evolution is unable to account for the design of new structures. Even more of a problem are the ravages of mutation on the genomes of organisms.13 Mutation, the mechanism by which evolutionary change is proposed to occur, most often has no effect upon the fitness of an organism. In humans, these "neutral" mutations occur at a rate of 2.6 mutations per person per generation. However, deleterious mutations occur at a rate of 1.6 mutations per person per generation. Although these deleterious mutations are usually recessive (not expressed unless there are two copies), they will accumulate in the gene pool over time. Decreases in population size leads to the expression of these deleterious mutations through inbreeding, which seriously affects the fitness of the species. In fact, this is the mechanism by which species go extinct. Because of the small amount of genetic variation among humans, evolutionists have proposed that the human species went through a population bottleneck in the recent past. However, such a bottleneck would lead to expression of deleterious mutations, which would further drive down the population numbers, leading to extinction. I believe that God created humans by editing primate DNA - adding new features and removing the deleterious mutations of this DNA template. If evolution were the mechanism by which species arose, deleterious mutations would continue to accumulate as new species evolved. This mechanism would lead to ever increasingly defective DNA through the biological history of the earth. How does this creationary model relate to pseudogenes? Since pseudogenes are not deleterious, I believe that God left them in the genome as part of the filler DNA required to maintain chromosome structure and function.
You know in my older creation beliefs, I assumed God just created new life from "nothing or air" (so I think Rich unfairly limits such an idea to just those who accept evolution).
The rest of the article though -- the way Rich described God actually creating -- is something I had to think on for a while. I suppose it felt suspect.
Why did God do it that way? Like I suppose how YECs don't understand why God took millions of years, rather than 6 days.
And then it just started making so much sense.
There is a certain romantic view to God tying all life together.
For example, creating man from dust and taking a part of the man and forming the woman from it.
It also evidences a much more personal God, delighting in His creation. As the ultimate Artist shouldn't we expect such?
And then, well there are evidences in the physical world that I believe a strong suggestive of an intelligent mechanism being required to got from A to B. (but I won't mention them here, at least not for now, because I'm just wanting to impart greater insight into these creation beliefs.)
SO, getting back to my original question.
Is this common descent?
I think it is so.
Evolutionary trees or cladograms could equally describe God's order of creation, what pre-existing life God drew from when bringing about something brand new.
God could also make use of multiple parts of "previous lifeforms" in creating new life. You know, traits often associated with "convergent" evolution (however unlikely such might have been).
So scientists get all confused along certain branches because they're looking for 1:1 relationships rather than many to one.
Kind of like Dolly the Sheep huh? Which you said had three mothers. Which one is she descended from? Well actually many.
Now my brain is starting to hurt too. I never thought it that far through before -- many to one.