Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why does God hate people who have heart attacks?

Consider Hypoxia Inducible Factor, or HIF.

HIF is one of a class of proteins known as Transcription Factors which are, basically, the on/off switches for genes. In general, they bind to a specific sequence in the beginning of a gene (although, sometimes, they also bind to the end, or somewhere in the middle as well), and initiate transcription of the gene into RNA. Usually, this mRNA is subsequently translated into a polypeptide.

HIF in particular modulates the expression of hundreds of genes in every tissue. It's basically exactly what its name sounds like. It activates during times when a tissue is oxygen-scarce and initiates a series of potentially helpful responses. Among others, it initiates proliferation of capillary beds, it modulates metabolism so that less oxygen is used, and in some tissues, drives the production of red blood cells (one of the genes which is most strongly driven by HIF is erythropoietin). Then, once oxygen tension is restored, it inactivates and disappears.

As you might guess, the activity of HIF is virtually always temporary. It activates during exercise, or times when you're breathing a thin atmosphere.

In the heart, one of the genes that HIF down-regulates, or partly turns off is called SERCA. The SR/ER calcium-dependent ATP-ase. SERCA is basically an ion pump which, at the end of every contractile cycle, pumps calcium ions into a small "bag" inside every muscle cell. The overwhelming majority of the calcium ions used in cardiac contraction come from this bag. Without this calcium, contraction doesn't happen, and the strength of contraction is approximately proportional to how much calcium is contained in this bag. This, effectively, makes SERCA a "gatekeeper" protein for energy use in the heart. One of the effects of adrenaline on the heart, for instance, is to make SERCA work harder, thereby pumping more calcium ions into the reservoir.

SERCA also happens to be one of genes which is most strongly downregulated by the action of HIF. Because it is so tightly linked to energy use, it's a perfect target if the goal is to conserve energy for a brief period of time.

In most cases where Hypoxia Inducible Factor is active in the heart, this is a very, very good thing. HIF turns on for a few hours, limits the energy consumption of the heart until oxygen delivery is restored, then shuts off, and SERCA returns. In the short term, this extends the "buffer zone" in which the heart can restore oxygen tension.

In a heart attack, this is a very, very bad thing.

When an artery is occluded, HIF has no way of knowing whether the oxygen shortage is because of a blockage, or because you went for a long jog. In either case, it does exactly the same thing. It forms new capillaries. It reduces your dependence on aerobic metabolism, and it drops SERCA in order to reduce energy demands. And if you'd been out jogging, rather than suffering a heart attack, all this probably would help. In the case where an artery is occluded, especially if it's occluded far from the hypoxic tissue, growing new capillaries will do nothing to increase oxygen delivery to the heart. As a result, there's nothing to shut HIF off. It keeps working and working, trying to restore oxygen tension.

Then things start to get bad.

As hypoxia deepens, HIF effectively shuts off the production of SERCA protein, and it basically vanishes. At this point, for all practical purposes, the heart could no longer contract, even if blood flow were restored. Basically, HIF takes a bad situation, and makes it much, much worse.

There's a very simple explanation in evolutionary terms why such a detrimental mechanism would evolve. Heart attacks are, for all practical purposes, invisible to natural selection. In all but a few rare cases, heart attacks occur long after humans reach reproductive maturity. Since natural selection can only select factors which will enhance or decrease the probability that a given organism will reproduce, heart attacks are basically impossible for natural selection to act upon. However, a mechanism which allows human beings to run longer, climb higher, and survive temporarily hypoxic environments would have an obvious selection benefit. In laymans terms, natural selection would select for the benefits of HIF action, and completely ignore the detriment.

But, for the sake of argument, let's posit that an all-powerful, all-knowing, intelligent entity built the HIF pathway all at once. It is basically impossible to escape the conclusion that God deliberately designed this pathway to kill people who have heart attacks. Remember, when God put this pathway together, She knew that this mechanism would be detrimental to the millions who suffer from myocardial infarctions every year (since She's all-knowing, and all), and She built it anyway. She designed a process which would dramatically increase human suffering down the road.

So, I feel it's worth asking: why does God hate people who have heart attacks?


Thursday, October 28, 2010

You don't know the circumstances of my decisions

My wife and I don't know if we're planning on having children. We may, we may not. Either way, it's a decision we don't have to make right away. More importantly, it's a decision nobody else can make for us for the simple reason that nobody else has our particular set of circumstances which will lead to the choice of whether we will propagate our genes into the next generation.

If someone told me that my choice was horrible, or immoral, or awful in some way, I can only imagine the anger it would produce in me. I'm not a wrathful person by nature, but I can easily see myself driven to a near-murderous rage if someone judged my decisions in an utter absence of any information about what brought me to them.

Unfortunately, this kind of occurrence is all too real, and all too common.

I used to live near Waikiki in Honolulu. My office is in Kaka'ako, which means that every day for almost two years, I would walk past the Planned Parenthood clinic on King Street near Keeaumoku. I don't think that a week would go by, and if it did, two never went by without a large crowd of people waving signs at anyone who dared approach the front of the building. Pictures of dead babies are strewn about in abundance. People praying the rosary are commonplace. And, always, they stand in self-righteous judgment of anyone who dares enter the clinic. Without daring to engage in conversation, they point accusatory fingers at the women entering the clinic and accuse them of murder. All the while, never knowing what decisions led them up to that point.

If you are a husband or a father (as these are the only roles available to me, I can only speak to the men on this particular issue), imagine being told that your child will not live. Imagine being told that an unfortunate, one in a hundred thousand fluke of developmental biology made your child's chances of survival exactly zero. That the absolute best-case scenario you could hope for was that some day in the very near future your wife will give birth to a corpse. Imagine hearing the anguished, heartbroken wails of your spouse or partner upon finding out that the child she's been carrying for months will not live.

Imagine, further, coming to the heart-breaking decision that the most merciful, indeed the only merciful option is to terminate the pregnancy.

Now imagine, on the day you go to the clinic, in a time frame which, by biological necessity, is too short to come close to allowing the grief to even weaken, people are standing outside the clinic, waving pictures of torn up fetuses, and screaming at the person you love most in the whole world that she is murdering her child, and she deserves damnation for entering the building, all the while not wondering, or not caring what circumstances, or heartbreak were involved in that decision.

This would be bad enough, if it were only a hypothetical scenario.

Aaron Gouveia deserved better. His wife deserved to be treated with compassion and humanity, two traits which I have, to this day, never seen anyone demonstrating outside the Planned Parenthood clinic display.

I'm going to end this post with Aaron Gouveia's words, because they fit, and they deserve to be quoted:

My wife, suddenly serious, pointed out a women entering the clinic. Within minutes, she said, that woman would be making a serious choice. Whether she kept her baby or not, it didn’t matter—what matters is that she can make the decision that’s right for her. And she can make it without people screaming at her.

These women may be making the wrong choice. I am nowhere near secure enough with my own moral standing to make that assessment. But whether wrong or right, nobody, no matter how righteous, has the right to take that decision away from her. You don't know the circumstances of their decisions, so don't judge them.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An open Letter to Ray Comfort

Dear Ray,

I think you probably already have guessed that I accept evolution. It has nothing to do with my belief or non-belief in God (as you have repeatedly implied). I have no opinion on whether God exists one way or the other. Evolution is, put simply, the best explanation we have for the pattern of the diversity of life on this planet. I have spent years studying molecular biology and bioinformatics and not one piece of evidence has arisen to make me reconsider the possibility that evolution works.

In all that time, another consistency has been observed: I have yet to find one single person (yourself included) who claims that evolution is impossible, and that actually has a correct argument. And just to be absolutely, 100% clear, let me explain what I mean when I use the words "correct argument." Every single pseudoscientific argument I have ever heard you make would be wrong even if evolution turns out to be wrong. A lie is a lie.

In fact, I'll go a step further: my experience suggests that most people who actively deny the theory of evolution don't actually understand it. And without exception, all those who actually do won't be able to give any solid scientific reasons for their rejection; they just choose not to believe in it, and trust that someday some fatal flaw will be found.

Imagine how frustrating that must be. Imagine that every day, you were meeting people who were constantly telling you that they don't believe the bible because it talks about Jesus walking around New York City, a city that didn't exist when Jesus supposedly walked. It's pretty much the same thing. Someone gives you an argument against something you understand in great detail that even the most cursory examination of the documents in question could prove to be false, and presents that as if it were a valid indictment of what you accept and believe. Tell me honestly that you wouldn't find that to be frustrating after a while.

You want me to see the impossibility of evolution? Show me that the successful attempts by scientists to evolve forms of HIV without the V1 and V3 variable loops didn't work. Show me that cancer cells don't evolve new pumps to pump chemotherapeutic drugs out, thereby developing resistance to the drugs. Show me that evolution-based bioinformatic programs like rVista don't work, which they would not, if the principles they were based upon were unsound. Show me that we have more ERVs in common with an elephant than a monkey, or more in common with a monkey than a chimpanzee. Or show me that all animals have different genetic codes (ie: the same genetic code in one metazoan produces a completely different amino acid sequence in another). Show me that DNA can't mutate, or that any mammal, anywhere on the planet doesn't have its embryonic development ass-first. Show that genes are not passed from parent to offspring, or that, as creationists have often contended but never supported in any way whatsoever, there is no mutation that confers a benefit upon the organism which possesses it. And this is only the barest scratch of the surface. I could write an absurdly long post consisting only of observations which could potentially disprove the theory of evolution.

So Ray, show me the cheddar. If you have something that will outweigh all of that, and prove the impossibility of evolution I see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands every day, please, present it. I guarantee you that you will be showered with praise and prizes, as you will have made the greatest single breakthrough in science in the last half century (at least).

There's one catch though: the argument actually has to be true and correct. Sure, it means a lot of work. Years, certainly, possibly decades worth of work, but if disproving evolution were that easy, someone would have done it by now.

Until you do...well, imagine a man. This man is standing in the middle of an airport, with hundreds of planes flying overhead. He is currently talking to a group of aerospace engineers, some of whom have worked on designing actual spacecraft. And he is proudly announcing to them that his simple "common sense" argument neatly proves that heavier-than air aircraft are impossible.

Unless you can provide the evidence, are that man.

So why are we so frustrated?

Well, to start with, it is pretty obvious, so obvious that you acknowledge it yourself, that you don't understand biochemistry and genetics too well.

Now, I cannot emphasize this enough: this is not intended to be an insult. Both of those are rather complicated subjects and require a lot of study to even develop a rudimentary understanding. I mean, to understand basic biochemistry, you need to spend at least a year of concentrated study on it and it alone. Before you even get to that point, you need at least a year of organic chemistry, and a year of basic chemistry before that. You should also understand mathematics to the point where you're comfortable with basic calculus as well. Finally, the picture won't be complete unless you take at least some physical chemistry.

That's just biochemistry. To get a good enough understanding of genetics, in addition to the aforementioned courses necessary to understand biochemistry, you need a solid grounding in molecular genetics and inheritance (a solid year each), and at least another year of population genetics to get an understanding of how all of the above applies to evolution. You should also get a decent understanding of chemical thermodynamics and nonlinear dynamics. A grasp of physical chemistry would also be a plus. This is not a matter of intelligence, there simply are that many facts to keep in mind.

I'm not, for the record, saying that you can't do it, just that you haven't. There's absolutely nothing inherently wrong with that, until you come up to someone who actually has put in the time and effort to learn all the things you haven't, and present them with a bogus argument that seems to oh-so-neatly debunk evolution, then slyly imply that they've wasted the last decade of their lives pursuing a theory that a four-year-old could see is worthless. When that argument happens to be completely without merit, as it pretty much always is, I imagine you can see why that would be frustrating.

But here you are, a person who has only some cursory knowledge of these areas. You see an argument, based on them, which claims to completely invalidate evolution. You can understand the argument, and as far as you can see, it seems to be correct.

Now, here's the $64,000 question: did it occur to you to ask yourself: "If I can understand this argument, with my very limited knowledge and understanding of biochemistry and genetics, how comes that all those people who spent a decade in school to learn those subjects, and understand these very complex subjects can't comprehend it? If it's so simple and so true, why can't they accept it?"

In short, did you ever even consider the possibility that it's actually you (and whoever fed you this oh-so-tidy disproof of evolution), and not the scientists who are wrong?

Scientists rarely accept things without checking unless they don't really care about the answer one way or the other. It's actually one of the first lessons you learn as a scientist: distrust other people's data at least twice as much as you distrust your own. Occasionally, someone will manage to pull a hoax off, some distinguished professor will manage to coast for a while on his reputation (setting aside, for the moment, that he or she generally has to make a reputation first, which always involves putting out some real work first)...but sooner or later, someone catches up with them. And the bigger the scam, the more difficult it is to hide. Every single hoax that you are oh-so-fond of trotting out and presenting as if they were somehow an indictment of the entire scientific process was found by the very scientific process, and the very scientists that they are trying oh-so-hard to indict.

In short, if evolution were wrong, it would not be accepted by scientists. Even censorship and peer pressure wouldn't be able to keep a lid on it very long. There would be uproar; there would be groups of scientists organizing themselves (and getting tons of money from religious organizations) against the "evolutionist establishment". There would be dozens of new antievolution biology journals popping up, publishing papers that show evidence of creation.

In communist countries, if you questioned the official party line, you risked jailtime, being beaten up, or just vanishing into thin air. Still (and I speak from personal experience here), at least 10% of the people in power structures opposed the establishment as best as they could. Even if you accept the most horrible horror stories about evilutionist conspiracies, you don't have anything even remotely close to this in science...and yet 99.9% of the people in the field --people who have the strongest understanding of the complexities and intricacies of the theory-- accept evolution. How is that possible? Wouldn't at least 10% resist? 5%? If evolution is so obviously wrong, why are they all supporting it?

So when you encounter the next piece of evidence that seems to oh so neatly debunk evolution - ask yourself, is it actually correct? And instead of approaching a scientist and saying "hey, this proves evolution is impossible", approach one and say "hey, I found this, is this actually true"?

You will save yourself a lot of embarrassment that way. Whether you believe it or not, most of us scientists actually know what we are doing. After all, the average life expectancy has been extended a bare minimum of 30-40 years since the early 20th century. This is largely a consequence of research performed by the very "Darwinist" scientists you claim lack even the most basic of investigative skills.

In general, the answer to just about any question you have will almost certainly be "no, that is not a problem for evolution, and your understanding of how the process works isn't correct," and in many cases, the person in question will probably be willing to explain your error to you, as many scientists are first and foremost educators, and maybe they'll succeed. But that won't teach you genetics; it will teach you that this particular argument isn't right, which won't prevent you from making some very similar errors in the future.

So, you have two broad options. First, you can trust that we know what we're talking about. The other is to check for yourself. If you choose the second one, however, you must be prepared to put in the work. I'd strongly recommend Lewin's Gene (currently in its ninth edition) along with Daniel Hartl's Essential Genetics. Both are very readable textbooks which cover their respective subjects well but at the end of the day, the chances are, you'll have to go and take classes for a few years. At the end of those years, you might have enough of an understanding of evolution to grasp why the argument you presented which oh-so-neatly debunks evolution is bogus without having someone else explain it to you.

Well, there is a third option: to believe that you understand it better then we do without having to study it, and therefore reject everything we say out of hand. But I'm kinda hoping you are too honest to do something like that.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ray Comfort's lies in Origin of Species, refuted pages 23-

First, let's start by having you open this document and turn immediately to the 23rd page. (Sec1:19). I will be starting this section pretty much where I left off the last one, at the section titled "Transitional Forms." Please feel free to follow along at home so you know I'm not warping Comfort's words, nor am I putting words in his mouth.

For the record, for any and all words copied verbatim from Mr. Comfort's document, I am claiming fair use under section 107 of the US copyright code. Specifically, those provisions which allow for use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In this case, the intent is to offer criticism of a clearly fraudulent document, and thereby falls under even the most stringent definition of the fair use statute.

Comfort continues:

Piltdown was a deliberate fraud, as a paleontologist filed down teeth from an orangutan jaw and included it with pieces from a human skull, treated them with acid to make them appear old, and buried them in a gravel pit.

Now, Comfort is going to proceed to list one fraud, one mistake, and he's going to present Hovind's old "Neanderthal was a human with Rickets" claim as if it hasn't been refuted. Many times. In terms that a dead chipmunk could not possibly have failed to understand.

What Comfort does not say, ever, is why these fossils were exposed as frauds, and who exposed them.

In the case of Piltdown man, it was always viewed as a questionable find since it seemed to have features which could not be reconciled with the evolutionary framework as it stood. It was never considered definitive evidence of human common ancestry with the apes.

It was scientists, the very scientists that Comfort is trying oh-so-hard to indict, applying the scientific method, the method that Comfort is trying oh-so-hard to establish is worthless, who found the Piltdown was a fraud.

But wait, Comfort isn't done yet.

The famed Nebraska Man was derived from a single tooth, which was later found to be from an extinct pig.

Note, there is no footnote whatsoever for this statement.

This is likely due to the fact that if he even remotely searched through the information available, he would have found this statement, made by Osborn, the man who discovered the tooth, upon its discovery:

I have not stated that Hesperopithecus was either an Ape-man or in the direct line of human ancestry, because I consider it quite possible that we may discover anthropoid apes (Simiidae) with teeth closely imitating those of man (Hominidae),

He followed that statement up with this one:

"Until we secure more of the dentition, or parts of the skull or of the skeleton, we cannot be certain whether Hesperopithecus is a member of the Simiidae or of the Hominidae."

What we have here, and what Comfort avoids saying like the plague is that this is a rather beautiful example of science working exactly the way it is supposed to. Osborn presented a finding that he felt was interesting. Scientists, as they should, treated it with skepticism until more data was available. Osborn himself urged caution and presented his findings, in essence asking if anyone had seen similar dentition in a ape-like skull. When more data came forward showing that the tooth was not from the human lineage, a retraction was promptly published.

What Comfort again avoids saying is that this is exactly what is supposed to happen in any science, not just the ones that Comfort personally finds morally reprehensible.

But wait! Comfort's not done yet!

Heidelberg Man came from a jawbone, a large chin section, and a few teeth. Most scientists reject the jawbone because it’s similar to that of modern man.

Now Comfort has shifted from misrepresenting the facts to outright lying.

Here, you can see comparative images (to scale) of Heidelberg Man's jaw and a modern human jaw. The Heidelberg man's jaw can hardly be considered "similar to that of modern man."

And don’t look to Neanderthal Man for any evidence of evolution. He died of exposure—his skull was exposed as being fully human, not ape.

And again, Comfort is lying. Twice, in the same sentence.

First, Neanderthalis is not fully human. It is described as a subspecies of human Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis. It has a number of features which distinguish it from modern man, and from its contemporary subspecies of Homo Sapiens

As was previously explained, there is no such thing as a part human/part ape, any more than there is any such thing as a part vertebrate/part dog, or a part dog/part canine, or a part dog/part mammal. Apes are a whole class of animals which includes the entirety of the chimpanzees, the ourangoutans, the gorillas, and you. You cannot make any list of the shared properties of all apes without your also possessing every last one of those properties.

In short, if the skull is fully human, it is by definition, also fully ape.

Incidentally, I reiterate, the classification of humans in the ape clade was done by a man who was both Christian and creationist, who died three decades before Darwin was born.

Not only was his stooped posture found to be caused by disease,

Neanderthal has a number of properties which are unique to his lineage and which disappeared when it was driven to extinction.

For starters, Neanderthal Man has long bones a full 50% thicker than the modern man's average. Rickets does not cause that, it actually causes the opposite effect.

Rickets causes an outward curvature in the femur. Neanderthal's curves backwards.

There is no disease, or combination of diseases which produces all of the distinct features that Neanderthals possess.

but he also spoke and was artistic and religious.

Again, no citation is given for this claim. No footnotes exist here. As far as I can tell, the evidence for Neanderthalis's religious beliefs exist nowhere outside of Ray Comfort's mind.

Indeed, the Neanderthals were tool-makers, and had a social lifestyle, but the exact same thing is true of absolutely all of the great apes.

Including us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ray Comfort's Lies in Origin of Species, refuted pages 19-23

First, let's start by having you open this document and turn immediately to the 19th page. (Sec1:15). I will be starting this section pretty much where I left off the last one, at the section titled "Transitional Forms." Please feel free to follow along at home so you know I'm not warping Comfort's words, nor am I putting words in his mouth.

For the record, for any and all words copied verbatim from Mr. Comfort's document, I am claiming fair use under section 107 of the US copyright code. Specifically, those provisions which allow for use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In this case, the intent is to offer criticism of a clearly fraudulent document, and thereby falls under even the most stringent definition of the fair use statute.

When Darwin wrote Origin of Species, he had a lot of ideas and conjecture about how this immense variety of life came about. But what evidence do we now have that his ideas were correct?

The answer to Ray Comfort's question, of course, is an absolutely huge amount.

For starters, we have a pattern of endogenous retroviruses which could only have arisen if human beings, the the other great apes, monkeys, and lemurs all shared a distant common ancestor.

We have the fusion of chromosome #2 which can easily be explained by common ancestry between us and all of the other primates, or by the existence of a malicious and deceptive being who wanted to make it look as if evolution had occurred.

We have the morphological nested hierarchy of organisms both extant and extinct first described by Linnaeus, a Christian Creationist, which is rather elegantly explained by the theory of evolution.

We have observed instances of speciation in the laboratory, and in nature which have occurred just in the time that human beings have been on the scene.

We have an abundance of transitional species which are laid out in exactly the way that evolution demands that they be laid out, and that Ray Comfort is about to insist do not exist.

And that's just the barest scratch of the surface.

If evolution were true, and humans and chimps did have a common ancestor, we would expect to find something that is half-monkey/half-man. These intermediate stages where one species supposedly evolves into another species are called “transitional forms.”

Two sentences, two lies. That's a record, even for Ray Comfort.

It is completely and logically impossible to have anything that is "half monkey, half man" in much the same way that it is completely impossible to have anything that is "half dog, half vertebrate," or "half dog, half mammal." That's lie number 1.

Lie number two is that not only does the theory of evolution not predict that there should be something that is "half-monkey, half-man," it would actually be disproved on the spot if we were to ever find such a thing.

The only way to objectively classify animals is by their shared properties: properties that they share and which are never, ever found outside of that group. Primates, the smallest cladistic group which includes all animals with every last one of the shared properties of the monkeys, also includes human beings. Primates, collectively, are defined as any gill-less, organic RNA/DNA protein-based, metabolic, metazoic, nucleic, diploid, bilaterally-symmetrical, endothermic, digestive, tryploblast, opisthokont, deuterostome coelemate with a spinal chord and 12 cranial nerves connecting to a limbic system in an enlarged cerebrial cortex with a reduced olfactory region inside a jawed-skull with specialized teeth including canines and premolars, forward-oriented fully-enclosed optical orbits, and a single temporal fenestra, -attached to a vertebrate hind-leg dominant tetrapoidal skeleton with a sacral pelvis, clavical, and wrist & ankle bones; and having lungs, tear ducts, body-wide hair follicles, lactal mammaries, opposable thumbs, and keratinized dermis with chitinous nails on all five digits on all four extremities, in addition to an embryonic development in amniotic fluid, leading to a placental birth and highly social lifestyle. This definition includes absolutely all of the monkeys (old and new world), lemurs, tarsiers, and apes.

This definition also includes you. Not only that, but it's impossible to separate you from this definition. No matter how many properties you listed out that described all of the monkeys, you could not separate yourself from that definition.

A subset of "monkey" is a group known as the great apes. They have further defining characteristics such as a specialized dentition, a tail which has shrunk to the point that it no longer protrudes beyond the skin, and a greatly increased range of motion in the shoulder. You have absolutely every one of the shared properties of the great apes.

A subset of the great apes is a much smaller cladistic group known as genus homo, of which all known examples are extinct except for Homo Sapiens.

So, not only should we not find anything that is half-human, half-monkey, evolution actually demands that we be fully monkey and fully human.

Actually, not only must we be fully monkey, we must have absolutely every last one of the shared properties that all other primates share in order for our common ancestry to be true.

If, for example, human beings had every single one of the shared properties that all primates shared, except that we were proteostomes, that, on its own, would be sufficient to disprove our common ancestry on the spot. Instead, we fit in exactly with the predictions of evolution.

One thing that has to be mentioned is that this isn't a construct of "evolutionists" that resulted in this classification. The person who first described human beings as "primates" was not only a Christian, but a creationist who, unless he had also discovered time travel, could not possibly have been attempting to support either Darwin or his theories, as neither would exist until over three decades after his death.

I want to point out, that is just from one paragraph. In one paragraph, two sentences, Ray Comfort told two lies so audacious, it took the better part of several pages to adequately refute them.

And it doesn't get much better from here.

Because evolution is said to have happened in the past,

Lie #3. Evolution is not said to be have happened in the past, it's happening right now. It's a continuous process. It didn't stop happening just because we happen to be around here to see it happen.

As a consequence, we do see it happening in species which have a short enough generation time to observe it. Bacteria, who have a generation time measured in hours rather than years have a shockingly fast rate of evolution. Among other things, they develop antibiotic resistances all the time, and it's a constant arms race to keep ahead of their staggeringly fast evolution.

HIV is constantly evolving ways of avoiding antiretroviral drugs. Yet another arms race that we're constantly facing. Recent comparisons between modern HIV strains and some of the earliest known samples was performed. They show about as much similarity to each other as you do to your average aardvark. By even the most stringent standard, this constitutes "macroevolution."

Bacteria have evolved the ability to metabolize nylon, a compound which did not exist until 30 years ago, and to metabolize TNT.

Richard Lenski recently ran a long-term evolutionary experiment on e. coli where they developed an ability they did not possess before: the ability to metabolize citrate.

In recent times, we've observed speciation in drosophila. Furthermore, we've observed something called ring species which is literally an evolutionary lineage laid out geographically. At the opposite ends of this line, the species cannot successfully interbreed, but any two adjacent species therein can. In a true ring species, the lineage is stretched in a circle, where the two ends are in close proximity to each other, so you end up with two species, occupying a similar geographic region, but which cannot interbreed.

Whether the theory of evolution is a fable or a fact should be seen in the fossil evidence.

Yet another lie. As a woman who studies the evolution of HIV put it, "if Darwin and Wallace had opened up a resort in Cuba rather than going into science, if every single fossil were still hidden, then the instant we found endogenous retroviruses, and understood what they were and what they meant, then the fact of common descent would have hit us in the head like a sackful of doorknobs."

If evolution were true, the fossil record should reveal millions of transitional forms, as life gradually evolved from one species to another.

Which it does. We have, literally, millions of transitional fossils.

What we don't have is Ray Comfort's straw-man version of what a "Transitional Fossil" would entail.

The next paragraph is Ray Comfort again making the bald-faced false statement that "there are no transitional fossils."

In other words, he insists that not a single one of these exist.

Incidentally, that's an exceedingly short list.

Interestingly enough, Ray Comfort is about to name two transitional fossils himself without realizing it.

Excited evolutionists believed that they found one back in 1999. A Chinese farmer glued together the head and body of a primitive bird and the tail and hind limbs of a dromaeosaur dinosaur, and completely fooled the worldwide scientific community (including National Geographic magazine) into thinking that they had found the “missing link” between carnivorous dinosaurs and modern birds. Called Archaeoraptor, it was quickly exposed as a fraud.

Note two things:

1) the reason why it was exposed as a fraud was exactly because it failed to line up with evolutionary predictions. The two parts of Archaeoraptor seemed to be a part of two completely separate transitional series.

2) Ray Comfort does not identify the two species that make up Archaeoraptor.

Without admitting it, Ray Comfort has just identified two species which even meet the most stringent definition of a "transitional species." Archaeoraptor is made up of two species (Yanornis martini, the body, and Microraptor zhaoianus, the tail). Both are perfect examples of "transitional species" which meet any definition of the term pertinent to evolution.

They do not, however, meet Ray Comfort's straw man version of what he thinks a "transitional fossil" should be.

Aside from “feathered dinosaurs,” many other supposed “missing links” have been debunked.

First off, feathered dinosaurs have not been debunked. Among others Archaeopteryx is a valid fossil with feathers which was capable of limited flight.

For example, a Berkeley website claims that “there are numerous examples of transitional forms in the fossil record, providing an abundance of evidence for change over time.” The only example they cite as proof is Pakicetus.

Comfort looks at a website which shows a general overview of evolution, and doesn't bother to look farther.

If he did, he would find, in addition to Pakicetus:

Ambulocetus natans: Early to Middle Eocene, (predating Pakicetus).

Indocetus ramani: earliest Middle Eocene

Dorudon: the dominant cetacean of the late Eocene. Their tiny hind limbs were not involved in locomotion. They were, however, perfectly adapted for swimming.

Basilosaurus: A fully aquatic whale with structurally complete legs

an early baleen whale with its blowhole far forward and some structural features found in land animals but not later whales.

You know, all those transitional fossil thingies that Ray Comfort seems to think don't exist.

Now, a slightly further search by Ray Comfort would have revealed that the closest living relative to the ceteans is the Hippopotamus. Had he bothered looking further, he would have found that the link between the two known as anthracotheres, a family which is very well represented in the fossil record.

I'll continue further later. Suffice it to say, I can only take Comfort's blatant lies in small doses.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ray Comfort's Lies in the Origin of Species. Pages 13-19

First, let's start by having you open this document and turn immediately to the 13th page. (Sec1:9). The title at the top of the page is "The DNA Code." Please feel free to follow along at home so you know I'm not warping Comfort's words, nor am I putting words in his mouth.

For the record, for any and all words copied verbatim from Mr. Comfort's document, I am claiming fair use under section 107 of the US copyright code. Specifically, those provisions which allow for use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In this case, the intent is to offer criticism of a clearly fraudulent document, and thereby falls under even the most stringent definition of the fair use statute.

That legal mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let us begin.

Consider for a moment whether you could ever believe this publication happened by accident. Here’s the argument: There was nothing.

Within the very first paragraph, Ray Comfort falls on his face. No science, certainly no science to which Darwin's Origin of Species is a pertinent document in even a historical sense ever claims that "there was nothing." Even modern cosmology does not make any such claim, so right off the bat, Comfort is attempting to lump cosmology in with evolution, and trying to present a straw-man argument for the former, as if all of them were under the same umbrella.

They are not. Evolution, put simply, is the non-random survival of randomly-varying replicators. This definition demands that replicators be in existence before evolution can take place. What Mr. Comfort, and Mr. Cameron fail to recognize is that the theory of evolution would not change in any observable way if tomorrow we were to discover that the first self-replicators were magically "poofed" into existence.

Then paper appeared, and ink fell from nowhere onto the flat sheets and shaped itself into perfectly formed letters of the English alphabet.

There are many flaws with this analogy. First, any scientific theory for which Darwin's Origin of Species is a pertinent historic text demands that, at the absolute least, the alphabet is already in existence. So let's start from there.

Let's start with the fact that the english language is an absolutely hideous analogy for the DNA code. The english language possesses 26 letters, punctuation marks, spaces and all the necessary symbols to make a working written language.

The main reason why the english language sucks as an analogy for the DNA code is simple: meaningless sequences of letters exist.

Imagine, if you will, a language which only possesses four letters. This language has another quirk: every single word in this language has only three letters. There are no spaces, no punctuation marks. And let's say that of these three letter combinations, 64 of them have known meanings.

If such a language existed, it would be completely impossible to make any combination of letters which was not meaningful. Even a random sequence of letters would translate into meaningful words and sentences.

Such a language does exist: it's called DNA.

Initially, the letters said something like this: “fgsn&k cn1clxc dumbh cckvkduh vstupidm ncncx.” As you can see, random letters rarely produce words that make sense. But in time, mindless chance formed them into the order of meaningful words with spaces between them. Periods, commas, capitals, italics, quotes, paragraphs, margins, etc., also came into being in the correct placements. The sentences then grouped themselves to relate to each other, giving them coherence.

By pure coincidence, an associate of mine performed an experiment like this. What he did is he started with completely random sequences of letters, then he applied a very simple evolutionary algorithm. The letters would undergo a random modification, and those which were farthest away from the target text were selected out. This is a process generally known as "evolution," and should not be confused with the straw-man version thereof that Ray Comfort presents here.

Initially, the resulting text had very little meaning:

t jthe-b;gin;cngmioaoetewte:,vweqzeav,nsk:g- t,x.enrth -wpeceartxcwepr:ithou:-vormlanegvodd,qay xlrkhms.ew,.rupoyltoapoa:tjufathe dezj, and -hsospirgt pw e.g w.s ,ovi:g lvszttqe isye of ganfpatnroj h:w ;ojgsadm, leb tusr. ,e siohtsxanyet,,beiwys light.:a,s ghd;waf thqtk yi lughtkw,t ghpd;eano gyd bdgaraeedf:yejpijhtsorom ovo darknhksq g:jug jpedjtie,ei-:oqlysscdeacill,ddnilhgnesnd kg;riy:usdwzensjg-tyw mdjrt wej lorlirg, oae dry. a.d goapg.ld-jxev trnr-tbezidojomamvntb,nqshejmidst,et theowatlrs;xana l.t htmee,.rnte theuwjte:s nkok khz :a,grimeyqt gsyrmj p ted fi.mofepr:aid lvpwqlted:,aexwltvk- wxic: werwvnrxer tvgq,:rmam.nswyromdt;, c;- cs kpiceawyrqg-bojejyhg eismrmmll. ae- itgwagmaknxizd godsdqpmegxthl vqc:axenonxetde:. knd therec,asmqxeningu:nd,the-e was moigsnjh f e rbsdanty. ejaoeoe saidr ,eq,tmekfpber,:nndeo thu heawpj-:gcrgutakneynt zjhjvpxjx- hnfvpz:oet;cnx:l;bgkxeudrt;epwd,lpm,ioc and omlwtb sog uw.t allediy-g dny xandceartbusanp tseezatexm f.attwe.t;ga. emcd z;g;the, hzkcalled-x,asa w dlgpr :ae-thkt;ct was gjo:j zjdjiocds-ad, jet s-r-oax-lxputavnrth;vewrtatm,n,opldsto liel,-ngludbtawwj::v uitdtrjxszbzaxfngufatstjsn rhlph cs:.koir .ehex ea:ofuccmading to n-s fizd, sp c poa eaqlk. ang im i-s sow ojegemutzzbrosliu,gyn:hvvjo.tyrif:, plengs .ieleiko ii - uwqkrdtn, toythei.mokm minqnr a-y vbems b:arikz krusl:jn whe:f o. todxpwsekgqheachspccokd -v wonitsu,icq.gandpaom.baq tavf rx:vau;hsob.ruidof eaeywaejevenwncbfnd:jhkcecwgspmfyhi;ghaa,hxsrd i y.,avkzggnmsybce:le ynebe aez-;ffteuij dtj firm,;fjtlou t.e sejgnnlhtl seolrans d.e ryjmfeymwtde nnyet; abldr t.tdn:gkevaormsmpng bzk jor.s.rlohy ond.ko:thuks kwq;y:arrynahp-let.tgekgba qisats bfhbmelx.rl v,ntvof-thh:tbbgensbwol:ivd n:y-txuton ghr eprth. .nd iprwasc gauwfv ifqt me the-twbigrlaq wvghaa, tzeqo:jat.r s;gho tp rule jcs dputya:q;qhewweszer eg;t sh rulg.bheqniglt;uhvjm;ve qhjogtats klsq; :hj gome,qt ttyyghqpehemgh .km ztrsfithevufqveisgt qjvalglbktdupdn jhe eaothojto julmbsvqq lcr gayqa-deove,:ghepnpghg, .no,eo swemravu tl;ilg,.: p.on xhxrybrk.ewx.ebnx:gyunby:,ihat it-wasutoqd. ahdu,hb,edhjdkedetin. mfughhewe wasxstani.g, hnmel,yhnd-y.vandhjod:juiz-ples thyqwa.ers o.tzriuipxhesgl mslofn;xoilg irwqturrs, ajs mit gc:dssgnm abovego e n.bsmaacrqo,wtmju;irxooentljbdfh. hea.ens. sy jwd creotjj th,zrx,adisrr ,onst rk lndqmvbffjpiv;ng crewtnrcgjham v v.z- gdmh jhdchxthe vabbls k,arn, ac,-rd.pgkcoathmsk vimdw,.andxetyo.cgi,gmdvbifdwac-onqinz monitnusifdh an-mg;dwwtt b.p;ziz :qi goota anw godyzlwssed rmu,,;yabizwjtbelfjui;fonaanx meoxyptu aipefihl tj; im ;hfkdeai,;andblet bigcj xoljip..notbtgu vuztx.;and akijedoasleventngp,wdgtherh wae mor-ingiralfiktb dayn and zoy szidp lgr,the karwj brtrb ,ortw ltvjmg jeextlfe;gsycoro.c -swaghebortlgtbrrqvgtle:and jfeeping vednrs and;beustg-offttzceorthfvqco.girg ah aheih eindfpr:nd itjwaj vk.:anddgwsammhe zy b;astsd.a tne faythwawcrxd.nyrto toei ,kicds knd ihmscatzlk oceordinv-i;nthdorokifdqtbansi:,eryihin- to.tgcceeiqburongtbqhjvcfn-.n.cyrviudotomitu jin-q dnd,gon:e-q;outtrgt pwsede d. t,etrgodlsysy, leusu, mqje;qgn wt kriimegn, aaker our zzouneckotd;d me:u he vaveatq.inioqjoveoutoj .ijw zn -hjl:e,b n,ehqvyrkthe wdskgn the epr, ilh ouwq t,e ,attly, a-d oiervall unxheakth, evdky br ;mi;g ts;ygknmarqcqcepslu.ewgahf eq,t-.; ondhjo oqu zm-ke,ss:jm;e izaqq ot rgc pw akeatvtchip;nmlle vnd :emxg, :qjcllaned them. and-y;vuhdessedjumz k msd:g,t s:w-.tojthig, p; fxuht.uliapd:oul -plyq kns filljtve;yayvhbaq.:s,vybgxit;uund biveid.fceiayc;:jrmthenfir,itfjtuedsr-aamf ove;whhe hxrmalgf thhjmkr .ndvuver edojy tjuizgknhilg;bhan:eovto glrnhth-pekgh .tand g-d l -v, qehold, i,havi h;venzygu hpbrykpovvynyuela.hgjseeymwwdch aoeu;la hl.wdch.o-;aql hhed rrto, ;.jylv-r, tdee kith segdcln rms frcit;rpvnnsefll hgjejohpq .:- ffcymxadc te everyblzastkof yrh,etdthglcjd qw aferywvvp: ogethn.ciro a.d dobbvgfythinzcvhnirn.slfs zcrtsrfealt kbevezyzaiqg gaptah-s the crswth,tf mu,d,tibhave grvel ,vuyyzgne,n pran. moh -fcd.prnd t wasrdmr rcddrpi smnpdgerptbgcg thmjjhexhar madg,gscejblcohi,:nzywaskvery aoodu ;eawtw r: ,-lpefenxndsa,d tourunwvp-mo:nimg, a s xth day

However, after a mere 540,000 generations (geologically speaking, an eyeblink), we have:

in the beginning god created the heavens and the earth. the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of god was moving over the face of the waters. and god said, let there be light; and there was light. and god saw that the light was good; and god separated the light from the darkness. god called the light day, and the darkness he called night. and there was evening and there was morning, one day. and god said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. and god made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. and it was so. and god called the firmament heaven. and there was evening and there was morning, a second day. and god said, let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. and it was so. god called the dry land earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called seas. and god saw that it was good. and god said, let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth. and it was so. the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. and god saw that it was good. and there was evening and there was morning, a third day. and god said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth. and it was so. and god made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. and god set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. and god saw that it was good. and there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. and god said, let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens. so god created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. and god saw that it was good. and god blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. and there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. and god said, let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds. and it was so. and god made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. and god saw that it was good. then god said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. so god created man in his own image, in the image of god he created him; male and female he created them. and god blessed them, and god said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. and god said, behold, i have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, i have given every green plant for food. and it was so. and god saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. and there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

I link here to the source code of the program itself, so that you can see that no hanky panky was involved.

I include all of this to point out that evolution is not a random process, as Ray Comfort will repeatedly contend. Once the process of random mutation, selection and reproduction are combined, we can, through a completely unguided process, produce a meaningful text from an initial set of completely random characters.

Now, to be clear, the english language is an absolutely horrid analogy for the genetic code. As previously mentioned, no meaningless sequence exists. We could program a computer to spit out completely random genetic sequences and we know without looking how many of them would be untranslatable: zero. The same cannot be said for the english language.

This program, in particular, is not an accurate depiction of evolution, however, the process is just as random as evolution is. We can, using a process that is unguided except to select for specific properties, we can construct the complete first chapter of genesis.

To liken DNA to a book is a gross understatement. The amount of information in the 3 billion base pairs in the DNA in every human cell is equivalent to that in 1,000 books of encyclopedia size.

It's more than a gross understatement, it's an absurd straw-man. Something that Ray Comfort excels at.

Yes, the human genome contains approximately 3 billion basepairs. Of those, at least 2.88 billion do absolutely nothing. Of the remainder, the larger portion are coding regions, and slightly less consist of non-coding regulatory regions.

In short, we can change roughly 96% of our genome without producing any observable phenotypic change at all. The coding regions, we can change any nucleotide at will and it will still produce a meaningful message (remember, DNA has no "meaningless" sequences), and in some cases, we can even insert a base pair, shifting everything downstream down one basepair. And still, it will be possible to translate the sequence.

In short, unlike any book, there is no possible change you can make to any sequence of DNA which will turn it into gibberish.

For example, recently, a group of scientists deleted a total of over two million basepairs from the genome of the mouse. Doing the same thing would render some section of any book illegible. That mouse has no phenotype. No observable change was found between that mouse, and its unmodified siblings.

In short, Comfort's analogy is hopelessly flawed, and bears no resemblance to the reality of the genetic code.

Aside from the immense volume of information that your DNA contains, consider whether all the intricate, interrelated parts of this “book” could have come together by sheer chance.

As previously pointed out, evolution is not an act of chance. It is the non-random survival of randomly-varying replicators. Evolution is largely the product of selection, which is the pretty much the exact opposite of "sheer chance."

Do you think that DNA’s amazing structure could have come together by accident?

Again, we have the key word: accident. Ray Comfort simply cannot resist beating down the same strawman he started with.

Even the director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute concluded there is a God based on his study of DNA. Francis Collins, the scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome, believes there is a rational basis for a Creator and that scientific discoveries bring man “closer to God”

Note, Comfort slyly ignores the fact that Collins, a devout Christian, is also firmly and unambiguously accepts the theory of evolution. A two second search on Google produces this quote:

I think intelligent design sets up a god of the gaps kind of scenario. Well, you know, we haven't yet explained this particular feature of evolution, so god must be right there. If science ultimately proves that those gaps aren't gaps, after all, then where is god? We really ought not to ask people to do that.

Heavens! A devout Christian speaking out against Intelligent Design? Surely Comfort must be up late at nights trying to solve this contradiction.

In 2004, the atheist world was shocked when famed British atheist Antony Flew suddenly announced that he believed in the existence of God. For decades he had heralded the cause of atheism. It was the incredible complexity of DNA that opened his eyes.

It should be noted that Anthony Flew has no formal training in biology. He has no particular familiarity with the theory of evolution or how it works.

And, again, Comfort is assuming that belief in God and acceptance of evolution are mutually exclusive. His own example of Francis Collins refutes this.

DNA is an incredibly detailed language, revealing vast amounts of information encoded in each and every living cell—which could not have arisen by accidental, mindless chance.

Again, Comfort is using the same "chance" argument. Using processes which are just as accidental or chance as evolution is, we constructed the entire first chapter of genesis. No designer was necessary, no input was involved from us. It did it all on its own.

Information requires intelligence and design requires a designer.

The problem with this claim is that nowhere in the initial 50 pages of this edition of Origin does Comfort give a definition of "information" which is quantifiable and pertinent to evolution.

For example, by any standard which is pertinent to evolution, the e. coli bacteria is among the most successful organisms currently inhabiting this planet. Do they have more or less information than human beings do?

There is a mountain in South Dakota that proves what evolutionists have been saying all along: if you just have enough time, wind, rain, erosion, and pure chance, you can get a mountain with the faces of four U.S. presidents on it! If we can all admit that the faces of Mt. Rushmore didn’t just accidentally appear, how much more complex are the people standing behind the podiums who want to be president?… Which is more complex? A. The faces of Mt. Rushmore, B. a 747, C. your cell phone, d. a worm. If you guessed “worm,” you are right. The DNA structures, digestive system, and reproductive system are far more complex than those other things that obviously had a designer. Maybe, just maybe, someone designed that worm, too.

It's worth pointing out that in this quote Janet Porter is stating, and Ray Comfort is citing, the same, tired straw-man argument. Evolution is not, and has never been, any more chance than the fact that a river flows downhill. Certainly, you may not be able to predict the exact path the river takes, but you would never say that "downhill" is a direction chosen at random.

One typical “proof” given for ape-to-man evolution is that chimpanzees and humans have very similar DNA. In
previous DNA studies, based on only portions of the chimp genome, scientists announced that humans and chimps were
98–99 percent identical, depending on what was counted. After completing the mapping of the chimp genome in 2005,
evolutionists are now hailing the result as “the most dramatic confirmation yet” that chimps and humans have common ancestry. Their overwhelming “proof” is the finding that the genetic difference is 4 percent—which is interesting proof, because it’s actually twice the amount that they’ve been claiming for years.

And here, we have Ray Comfort blatantly lying.

Evolution does not demand that there be a particular "amount" of difference between any two organisms. It merely points out the relative amount of difference which should exist. For example, humans should most closely resemble chimpanzees, they should slightly less closely represent gorillas, and they should barely resemble elephants at all. It's not the amount of similarity that is important, as Ray Comfort dishonestly implies here. It's the pattern of similarity.

Interestingly enough Ray Comfort does not mention something else which was found once the chimpanzee genome was sequenced. Endogenous Retroviruses.

We found 16 endogenous retroviruses in the chimpanzee genome which are identical, and located in the exact same location in the chimpanzee genome as we find in the human genome.

If human beings and chimpanzees were created separately, the probability of this occurring by coincidence is approximately 1 in 2x10^138.

However, if chimps and humans share a common ancestor, and that ancestor was infected with all 16 of these endogenous retroviruses, then the probability that we and chimpanzees will have 16 ERVs in common with each other is...

(drumroll please)



As in, it will happen.

I leave it as an exercise for the interested reader to decide which is the most likely occurrence.

Men and monkeys also have another fundamental difference: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes while
chimps have 24, so the DNA isn’t as similar as you’ve been led to believe.

Notice how Ray Comfort studiously avoids asking (and heaven forbid that he answer) one simple question: where did the extra chromosome go (or come from).

The sequencing of the chimpanzee genome revealed something very interesting. It revealed that human chromosome #2 resulted from a head-to-head fusion of two chimpanzee chromosomes (with this discovery, retroactively named 2p and 2q).

How do we know this? Well, for starters,

1) The analogous chromosomes (2p and 2q) in the non-human great apes can be shown, when laid end to end, to create an identical banding structure to the human chromosome 2.

2) The remains of the sequence that the chromosome has on its ends (the telomere) is found in the middle of human chromosome 2 where the ancestral chromosomes fused.

3) the detail of this region (pre-telomeric sequence, telomeric sequence, reversed telomeric sequence, pre-telomeric sequence) is exactly what we would expect from a fusion.

4) this telomeric region is exactly where one would expect to find it if a fusion had occurred in the middle of human chromosome 2.

5) the centromere of human chromosome 2 lines up with the chimp chromosome 2p chromosomal centromere.

6) At the place where we would expect it on the human chromosome we find the remnants of the chimp 2q centromere.

7) The order of the genes is in the exact same order as is found in the two ape chromosomes.

Every last one of these is rather easily explained if one posits that humans and chimpanzees possess a common ancestor. Actually, it's kinda hard to explain in any other way, unless one posits that a deceptive, malicious, and horribly unimaginative deity wanted to make it seem exactly as if humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor.

More importantly, this claim of evolutionists makes a huge assumption. What is the scientific basis for assuming that similar DNA means a common ancestor?

Again, Comfort is presenting a straw-man here. It is not the similarity in DNA that assumes a common ancestor. It is, among other things, the pattern of endogenous retroviruses, the presence of fusion in human chromosome 2, the nested similarities in DNA (specifically, the pattern of similarities), redundant pseudogenes shared between humans and all the other great apes, nested morphological similarities...

When you see a biplane and a jet—which share common features of wings, body, tires, engine, controls, etc.—do you assume that one must have evolved from the other naturally, without a maker?

From one exceptionally bad straw-man, Comfort jumps straight into constructing an even worse one. Evolution only applies to systems capable of making slightly different copies of themselves. Does this apply to an airplane?

It’s more reasonable to conclude that similar design indicates a common, intelligent designer. An architect
typically uses the same building materials for numerous buildings, and a car manufacturer commonly uses the same parts in various models.

Until buildings are capable of reproducing, this is utterly irrelevant to evolution.

After all, DNA is the coding for the way our bodies look and operate, so creatures with similar features or body
functions (eyes for vision, enzymes for digestion, etc.) would have similar coding for these things in their DNA.

Which doesn't explain the presence of endogenous retroviruses, the fusion point in human chromosome 2, or the "broken" gene for vitamin C synthesis in all the apes, but only in the apes, including you.

Take this analogy. Suppose you're a teacher, and you have two students who turn in extremely similar papers. You call them in, and accuse them of plagiarism. They argue that they were working together, and therefore, the similarities are a reflection of their close working environment. What if, you point out, they had misspelled all of the exact same words, made the exact same mistakes, and had unique and identical errors in their respective papers that existed nowhere else, in none of the rest of the papers any of your other students had written? Would it not be reasonable to posit that both of these papers had a common origin?

So, even though we share 96 percent of our genetic makeup with chimps, that does not mean we are 96 percent chimp.

Since nobody is claiming that human beings are 96% chimp, Comfort is again constructing straw man over straw man.

According to evolutionist Steven Jones, a renowned British geneticist, “We also share about 50% of our DNA with bananas and that doesn’t make us half bananas...”

So, Comfort claims that evolutionists are looking to make a banana out of you, then cites an evolutionist who specifically says that sharing 50% of our genes with a banana doesn't make us a banana. The logic of that somehow eludes me.

And again, it should be mentioned that Comfort is again using the same straw-man argument. It's not the amount of similarity that's critical, it's the relative amount. The fact that we share about 50% of our genes with a banana is exactly what we expect. If we found that we shared the exact same amount with a chimpanzee would be about the most dramatic disproofs of evolution imaginable.

Well, that, and a crocoduck.

I'll continue tomorrow.