Questions on evolution for professors and students

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Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby stcordova » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:27 pm

One exercise I found helpful in persuading college students about the falsehoods of evolutionary theory is to get them to research the questions themselves or ask fellow students or ask (if they are clever and brave) professors they know (preferably after they've gotten through the class).

This thread is for collecting some good questions to ask and recording the effectiveness of the questions. I've found some questions that I once thought were good, turned out not to be so good. There have been lists before like:
10 question you should ask your biology teacher

But I want to revise and improve on that list and even include Noah's flood type questions.
Last edited by stcordova on Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby stcordova » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:31 pm

Here is one adapted from Uncommon Desent.

One biology major was interested in creation, and I suggested she ask her physiology professor a question about what the transitionals of the human heart should look like, for that matter transitionals of the heart in general. She came back one day beaming and said, "you were right, they have no answer! Then why do say it evolved?"

Look at the right atrium in these four creatures from Encyclopedia Britannica


How did that right atrium evolve from one side to the other along with changes in its connection to the pulmonary artery? In the crocodile and snake the right atrium is on the right ventricle but in the lizard and turtle they are on the left ventricle.

Look at the aortas. In the lizard they are all on left ventricle, in the snake on the right ventricle, and then split for the turtles and crocodiles. How did those aortas migrate from on ventricle to the other without the transitionals being lethal?

Study the picture more and you'll see, the Intelligent Designer seems almost to have a sense of humor in exploring the various implementations.

Darwinists will say, "we have sequence comparisons that demonstrate the similarity, therefore the transitionals had to exist", but someone with an engineering mind would say, "so what did the transitionals look like without killing the organism?"

Is neutral evolution in play? No, because lethal changes aren't neutral. Did natural selection cause the change? No, because natural selection would prevent the change. How about blind luck mutation. That's possible if there are multiverses.

Wd40 accuses me of not naming one transitional that can't exist in principle. Well above you have 4 transitionals that don't exist in principle. Connecting these hearts via Darwinian evolution doesn't exist even in principle. What were the functional transitionals as the atrium migrated from on ventricle to the other, or the aortas migrating from one ventricle to the other?

On could say, "Sal you have it all wrong, they all evolved from the 2-chambered heart". :shock: Well that only makes the problem worse, not better! The above hearts are not 2-chambered. See below to understand the difficulty. But first, I note, I'm not the first to raise the issue. One brave ID student challenged his biology teacher as recounted by this atheist student:

There's a fellow in my class who is quite religious, we both enjoy a good discussion about life. He is a Christian (who believes VERY strongly in intelligent design) while i am a Atheist.

One topic came up in class about how the heart could have evolved from 2 chambers to 3 (and i suppose a 4 chamber heart), our science teacher couldn't answer the question to which he replied "Than why teach it?" (He often says that, gets on my nerves a bit, but I'd rather let it be).

After class i came up to him and told him I'd have a answer for him, time went on and i forgot about it, but I'd love to answer the question for him. I couldn't seem to find anything about it in wikipedia or google, so i figure maybe a message board dedicated to science may have the answer. ... 63125.html

Here is the difficulty. The wiring from 2-chambered (fish) to 3-chambered (some reptiles) is pretty difficult. It can't happen in gradual steps. Not only does the 3rd chamber have to come into existence, there has to be a major simultaneous plumbing overhaul. After that, then you have to account for the different plumbing above for the non-2-chambered hearts. The transitionals would be lethal in each step.


No wonder the biology teacher could not describe the transitional!

1. The evolution from 3-chambered to 4-chambered might not be so bad, but again, what about the wiring? If the chambers are wired differently, then the evolution via slow incremental changes would be precluded. I mentioned earlier the difficulty of evolving from 3-chambered to 4-chambered, but upon further consideration, I think the problem evolving 2-chambered to 3-chambered or the diagram above are more pointed arguments.

2. Apparently 3-chambered hearts are often viewed as having one ventricle, but the Encyclopedia Britanica describes the single ventricle as being 2 (one right and one left), but it doesn't matter that much when considering the position of the right atrium and other plumbing.
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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby stcordova » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:58 pm

A renowned geneticist himself suggested a question which he himself has no answer for:

The ribosome, both looking at the past and at the future, is a very significant structure -- it's the most complicated thing that is present in all organisms. Craig does comparative genomics, and you find that almost the only thing that's in common across all organisms is the ribosome. And it's recognizable; it's highly conserved. So the question is, how did that thing come to be? And if I were to be an intelligent design defender, that's what I would focus on; how did the ribosome come to be? -

George Church

See more at: ... 6n1Xi.dpuf
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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby stcordova » Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:18 am

HT tjguy

Here's a good set of questions from the OOL community. :-)

Proposed Open Questions in OQOL2014
The following is the 15 open questions for your vote.
01. How can we make ordered sequences of amino acids, or mononucleotides by prebiotic means?
This question is in fact never asked in the modern research on the origin of life. Do you agree then that we do not know how to make macromolecular sequences in many identical copies under prebiotic conditions? Do we have to wait for this orderly sequence until the genetic code has been developed?

02. Why is the origin of life still a mystery?
Premise: Why is the origin of life still a mystery? The turning point nonlife-life has never been put into one experimental set up-actually it has never be clarified from a conceptual point of view either. There are of course several hypotheses, and this plethora of ideas means already that WE DO NOT HAVE A CONVINCING ONE! The most popular is with the RNA-world prebiotic scenario, which has the advantage of providing on paper a theoretical series of IMAGINARY events, each however with an UNINAMIGINABLY SMALL PROBABILITY (be the prebiotic production of a self-replicating RNA, and its eventual transformation into a catalyst for DNA and independently for protein synthesis)

Why should this happen, and what about the genetic code? Aside from the problem of experimental implementation, don’t you think we lack (until now) the capability of intellectually conceiving how the turning point really happened?

03. Is the molecular crowding critical for the beginning of life?
Quite a dense concentration of macromolecules in cells: Is it an essential condition for origin of life? If so, how was the concentration acquired before the origin of life? Or, was it a result of the evolutionary process?

04. Can Artificial Life or Synthetic Biology contribute to the origin of life?

Do you have any data that imply alternative forms of life (still within the general category of metabolism + self-reproduction + evolvability) with molecules different from the biological ones? Or, do you think that synthetic biology research can provide a model or theory for the origin of life study?

05. Can catalysts come out from the free ticket of thermodynamics?

06. Can we construct real RNA world and RNA-based biological systems in a test tube?
At the early stage of RNA world, RNA molecules should have no functional property. What physical or chemical process mediates the selection of specific RNA? Even when functional RNA enzymes are generated, it still remains a challenge to construct sustained self-replication and metabolic system in which multiple RNA molecules function cooperatively. Once we can construct the precursor of a replication system by a set of RNA molecules, is it possible to emulate another path of evolution in a test tube?

07. What is the origin of genetic code?: Investigating DESIGN PRINCIPLE of aa-tRNA and aa-RS?
The genetic code is most essential part for the genetic systems. In the context of the origin of life, a major issue on the genetic code is to understand how the materials relevant to genetic code that can translate the sequence of four bases into a polypeptide. … Can we find or design simple aa-RS and aa-tRNA from the cocktail of molecules (e.g., amino acid, tRNA(-like) molecule, and ATP), which might be relevant to the origin of translation and genetic code? What features are required as a mechanism that ensures robust translation?
08. Prior to genetic code: Is the notion of prebiotic cells conceivable?
The simplest cells on our Earth contain at least 500–600 genes, and more generally several thousand. This observation elicits the question, whether this high complexity is really necessary for the simplest form of cellular life, also in view of the fact that early cells in the origin of life and evolution could not have been as complex as modern cells…. Do you think it is possible to construct in the laboratory, models of early cells, displaying a kind of primitive cellular life (self-maintenance + self-reproduction + evolvability), based on a number of genes which is one order of magnitude smaller than the present day simplest cells. Say a living cell with 30–40 genes?

[I’d like to know how they can come up with even one gene!]

09. What is the list of prebiotic molecules present in primodal cells?
The “free ticket” of thermodynamic control is however not sufficient: if a chemist is given all these compounds in any amount he wishes, he would be unable to make life. For making life, one needs a series of additional reactions and products under kinetic control – enzymes and nucleic acids are not with us because they are the most stable chains. Thus, the origin of life can be traced back to the origin of kinetic control. Do you agree with this statement; and how would you envisage the prebiotic evolutionary bridge between thermodynamic and kinetic control?
10. On Contingency vs. Determinism
The proteins (or nucleic acids) existing on our Earth correspond to an infinitesimal part of the theoretically possible sequences – the ratio between possible and existing structures corresponds more or less to the ratio between the space of the universe and the space occupied by one hydrogen atom. The above ratio can be interpreted as an indication that our “few” proteins have not been selected primarily because of distinctive properties (such as thermodynamic or thermal stability, solubility, particular kinetic processes of formation etc…) – but rather due to a most significant contribution of the vagaries of contingency.
Do you agree with this statement, and with its corollary, that then life on our Earth, which is based on these “few” proteins, is not an obligatory pathway, but is largely based on contingency?

11. How to Make Prebiotically Long Hetero-Peptides or Hetero-Nucleotides?
There are no or rather scanty reports in the literature on how to make under prebiotic conditions long – say 30 residues – specific sequences of co-oligopolypeptides (or polynucleotides) in many identical copies containing say five to six different amino acid residues or three to four bases (the Merrifield method cannot be considered a prebiotic method)… Do you agree then that we do not know – neither conceptually nor experimentally – how to make macromolecular sequences in many identical copies under prebiotic conditions? And if it so, would you not conclude that the bottom-up (sentence ends abruptly)

12. On the origin of catalytic cycles
The question. How do you envisage the origin of sequentially catalytized reactions in a prebiotic scenario? And can you provide facts or scientific arguments, not simply beliefs, about this critical point?

13. Life as unity or confederacy

14. Universality – What properties of life are universal?

15. What is the physical mechanisms underlying the assembly of primitive cell-like structures? ... age_id=180

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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby tjguy » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:39 am

Other anomalies are found when examining the presence and absence of vitamin C synthesis from a broad evolutionary perspective. Of particular note is the growing data set showing that cartilaginous and non-teleost bony fish species are able to synthesize vitamin C while no known teleost (ray-finned) fish has this capability, which is associated with the complete absence of the GULO gene (Drouin, Godin, and Page 2011; Wong et al. 2013; Yang 2013). The complete lack of GULO genes in all studied teleost fish genomes thus far is highly significant because they make up about 95% of all fish taxon (Yang et al. 2013). The key question from a grand evolutionary perspective is how did these genes completely disappear during macroevolution in teleost fishes and then reappear in other metazoan lineages later on? Another interesting anomaly is that the various genes that typically flank GULO in mammal and bird genomes are dispersed throughout the genomes in teleost fishes in variable taxonomically restricted patterns (Yang 2013). Despite their complete lack of a GULO gene, teleost fish successfully obtain their vitamin C requirements from their normal dietary intake in the wild.
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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby tjguy » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:43 am

Could some or much of the so called evidence in genetics interpreted to support common descent actually be nothing more than convergent degeneration?

Couldn't creationists use the argument of convergence to our advantage as evolutionists do?
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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby stcordova » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:10 pm

Could some or much of the so called evidence in genetics interpreted to support common descent actually be nothing more than convergent degeneration?


If evolutionists invoke convergence, why not creationists!
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Re: Questions on evolution for professors and students

Postby T.S.Erik » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:39 am

I remember the heart question on UD, and it had all the "greats" like Alan Fox, Liddle, et al. stumbling and stammering attempting to reason how transitions could occur whilst still have a viable organism each step of the way.

I would certainly agree on this example. I would also agree one cannot shove it down student's throats and guiding them subtly toward their own investigation. Especially at that age they simply know everything and anyone who tries to say otherwise is "the man keeping them down."

Depending on how technical one wishes to get, a good option could be on the shortcomings seen in population genetics. A read through the fairly recent, "Science and Human Origins" (Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe, Casey Luskin. 2012) will provide an entire semester's worth of questions.
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