Why Did God Create Nested Hierarchies

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Why Did God Create Nested Hierarchies

Postby stcordova » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:35 pm

Even though I'm a YEC, I don't always agree with typical creationist and ID viewpoints. One area I disagree with is the attempt to characterize humans as substantially different than Chimpanzees. We are certainly closer in similarity to Chimpanzees than we are to other life forms like trees and starfish. I myself have seen human proteins that are 100% identical to chimp proteins....

Creationists like Linnaeus were among the first to notice living creatures can approximately be arranged in nested-hierarchical patterns of similarity. That is species can be arranged into groups that are part of larger groups that are parts of even larger groups. Nested hierarchies have been used as evidence in favor of Universal Common Ancestry/Descent.

Many ID proponents and creationists like my longtime friend and associate from the Discovery Institute, Casey Luskin, denies how forcefully these hierarchical patterns exist. See his essay here:

Though Casey is a friend, I still vigorously DISAGREE with him and others on nested hierarchies. You can see for your self a common sense hierarchical arrangement like this:


Casey, like evolutionists, conflates phylogenetic nested hierarchies with morphologically and genetically defined nested hierarchies. For example, one could easily dispense with the assumption of phylogeny in creating protein taxonomies based purely on patterns of similarity and diversity and function:

Furthermore, at the level of individual genes, there are all sorts of hierarchies. I myself have built them for various genes by creating gene trees with phylogenetic software. Here is a gene tree for the COX1 gene for example that shows a nice hierarchical relationship using a Neighbor Joining method:

I've argued that at best evolution may explain nested hierarchies on individual genes (like COX1) via random mutation and selection, but it doesn't explain nested hierarchies defined by orphan or taxonomically restricted genes (TRGs). For example, there are genes unique to eukaryotes in the eukaryotic spliceosome. Nested hierarchies defined by such orphans and TRGs are counter evidence against Universal Common Ancestry/Descent.

Now if one is convinced the physical evidence suggests the fossil record is young (say 6,000 to a few hundred thousand years), then even most evolutionary biologists will agree such a short time frame would be not enough time to evolve all the creatures on earth from a common ancestor. If that is the case, I would conclude the patterns of similarity are by common design, not common descent. That is, God designed Chimps and Humans to be alike.

I would even argue God created similar errors in Chimps and Humans. For example, many if not all mammals can suffer from juvenile cancer and juvenile diabetes. Did mammals inherit these defects from a common ancestor, or were they placed there by God? It seems to me, they were placed there by God.

Some of this can be inferred even without appeal to theology. For example, I argued from physics alone, one can argue for the existence of God.

Also, if the fossil record is young, then there is not enough time for evolution, both of the good and bad traits.

The question then is, "why?" Even though, imho, the question of God and creation is within or just outside the borders of science, the answer to "why" is completely far outside of science. It seems to me the shared errors in creatures are due to the fall of man. When Adam sinned, all of nature was affected as a sign of his sin. I believe the Bible partly because the world looks simultaneously designed AND cursed. This accords with the creation account and Adam's sin.

So why did God create creatures like Chimps that are so similar to us that we might think we evolved from a common ape ancestor? First, if evidence of the youth of the fossil record is accurate, then God gave us evidence we didn't evolve from apes. Even evolutionists would agree that this would be impossible in a scenario where life appears less than a few hundred thousand years ago.

My answer to the patterns of similarity is that this is how God enables us to learn about ourselves (humans) and our place in the universe through the death and sacrifice of animals. A poignant example of this I encountered this year.

I was making a presentation on my library research of certain nerve cell experiments. Sadly, I found out a lot of the experiments were made possible by tissues extracted from an aborted fetus in 1973, specifically this immortalized cell line from that fetus:


HEK 293 cells were generated in 1973 by transformation of cultures of normal human embryonic kidney cells with sheared adenovirus 5 DNA in Alex van der Eb's laboratory in Leiden, the Netherlands. The cells were obtained from a single, apparently healthy, legally aborted fetus under Dutch law; the identity of the parent and the reason for the abortion are unknown.[1]

The cells from this aborted fetus have been perpetually cloned for decades as they are mostly immortal and changeless. Here are some of the cells of the deceased victim:

These cells are available through internet purchase for about $500 from various labs as if human life were so cheap.

I don't know that I could ever bring myself to do lab work with such cells. I felt guilty enough just highlighting the advance of knowledge which was brought about by these cells. The audience cheered my presentation on the advances in understanding glutamate receptors by experiments using these cells, but I felt guilty for not saying that I didn't endorse the methods involved. Surely there is a better way to do business!

In contrast, so much is learned about humans by studying squids, ray fishes, zebra fish, chickens, rats, mice, chimps. In fact sometimes we can learn BETTER about humans by these creatures. For example, squids have optimally sized nerve axons that made them ideal to study human nerves. Electric ray fishes have ideal ion channel homologs that make them ideal to study certain human ion channel receptors, etc. Chicken eggs are ideal to learn a few aspects of human embryology, etc.

So, my speculation is that God didn't create the patterns of similarity to fake the appearance of evolution (there is enough contrary data that one could even make the case against evolution even if the fossil record were old), but he did this so that we would have optimized tools in God creatures to help us understand ourselves and that we are, as the Pslams said, "fearfully and wonderfully made."

Hence we can consider our similarity to other creatures a gift from God. The way I look at it, these creatures are really a reflection of who we are and on some level even who God is. After all Jesus is called "The Lamb of God".
Last edited by stcordova on Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Did God Create Nested Hierarchies

Postby stcordova » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:46 pm

My ad for this article at reddit/r/creation:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Creation/comme ... at_almost/

Living things can be classified into groups that form what is called a nested hierarchy. This is used to argue for Universal Common Ancestry/Descent. For example we and chimps are part of the group called primates which are part of the group called mammals which are part of the group called vertebrates, etc.

I give my opinion below as to why I don't believe in Universal Common Descent and why God might create life such that it can be classified into nested hierarchies and thus superficially look as if it were evolved.


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Re: Why Did God Create Nested Hierarchies

Postby stcordova » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:01 pm

> Given this, why should it bother creationists that we see semi-nested hierarchies of living things, along with significant discordances?

It bothered me. Actually Michael Denton was an Old Earth Creationist and then became an atheist when he went to medical school and was in the dissection room observing the organs and limbs of humans and apes. Eventually Denton became and agnostic and wrote an ID friendly book when he concluded Evolution was a theory in crisis. So he sort of went not quite full circle in his views.

I see lot of the discordances, but they aren't always blatant. There are former creationists who are became ID proponents, like Mike Gene (his pen name), who felt if God wanted to make creation blatantly obvious, he wouldn't have made something like a chimp.

Now, in the man-made world of designs, there are hierarchical designs all over the place, but they don't replicate. Further, phylogenetic relationship in species lines do create nested hierarchies -- like the genealogy of Abraham. There are nested hierarchies that begin with his two sons, Ishmael and Issaac, and this is strongly supported by genetic evidence, aka the Abraham Modal Haplotype:

http://abraham-modal-haplotype.wikia.co ... _haplotype

But, when one really scrutinizes the data, one sees that hierarchies defined by orphan genes and TRG's aren't generated through a process of replication since TRGs have no traceable ancestor, and neither do they make any mechanistic sense in terms of common descent. The classic example are the TRGs in the eukaryotic spliceosome. I shared this info with a Christian Darwinist pre-med biology sophomore, and he became a creationist in one hour!

But, given that it's in my nature to be skeptical and curious and ask "why", and I kept asking. Well, when I started doing my investigative reporting work at the NIH, and I saw all the cruel things we do to lab creatures (like changing their genomes and deliberately giving them birth defects), I began to appreciate and be grateful God made creatures similar to us. I was wondering why I had to go through bomb and firearms security screening each time I went to the NIH. The rumor is animal rights activists have been terrorizing researchers and have killed and injured several researchers around the world.

God ordained that human life cannot be sustained without the death, the spilling of blood, of innocent creatures. Biology seems a picture of Christian doctrine of the Lamb of God. It extends not just to food, but to scientific understanding of our biology. We could not understand ourselves without the sacrifice of innocent animals.

Also, the patterns of difference and similarity are HIGHLY optimized to help us elucidate protein structure and function. I definitely saw that by studying protein sequence alignments and identifying key functional motifs. Darwinists will say that this is "conserved" due to selection, but that won't work if the fossil record and life are young. The patterns of similarity and difference are VERY deliberate, imho, optimized for scientific discovery, just like our Privileged Planet.
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