Evolution 101- Part 17: Ring Around the Species (or, How to Turn Owls into Owls)

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! (Free Toy Inside!) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

BOLD font is me, Rent A Friend 2000, being Bold.

A plausible model
We have several plausible models of how speciation occurs — but of course, it’s hard for us to get an eye-witness account of a natural speciation event since most of these events happened in the distant past.

Just to reiterate: Science requires observation. These guys just admitted that this part of the story CAN’T be observed, as it happened in the distant past. Oh, you’re saying, but they said “MOST of these events happened in the distant past.” Doesn’t that mean SOME are happening today? Just go back to Part 16 and read about Iguana Island to see the observational evidence from recent times and I’ll let you decide how “Plausible” it is.

We can figure out that speciation events happened and often when they happened, but it’s more difficult to figure out how they happened.

Once again I am having trouble not being sarcastic. Let me just summarize their first two main points: We can’t observe speciation, and we don’t know how it happens. But we KNOW it happens and when. We just can’t say WHAT happens when it happens because we’ve never watched it happen. See? Even that sounds sarcastic. Try this sometime, folks. It’s not as easy as it looks.

However, we can use our models of speciation to make predictions and then check these predictions against our observations of the natural world and the outcomes of experiments.

Wait, check these predictions against WHAT observations? Just a few lines up they admitted that they COULD NOT observe much because it all happened in the distant past. Now they have enough going on to verify predictions? Am I still reading the same web site?

As an example, we’ll examine some evidence relevant to the allopatric speciation model.

Allopatric, according to Wikipedia, means geographic speciation… speciation that occurs when biological populations of the same species become… isolated from each other to an extent that prevents or interferes with genetic interchange.

Scientists have found a lot of evidence that is consistent with allopatric speciation being a common way that new species form:

  • Geographic patterns: If allopatric speciation happens, we’d predict that populations of the same species in different geographic locations would be genetically different. There are abundant observations suggesting that this is often true. For example, many species exhibit regional “varieties” that are slightly different genetically and in appearance, as in the case of the Northern Spotted Owl and the Mexican Spotted Owl. Also, ring species are convincing examples of how genetic differences may arise through reduced gene flow and geographic distance.

Anybody else notice that they failed to tell you what Ring Species are? If they are convincing examples, why are we told NOTHING about them? This doesn’t disprove evolution of course, I’m just starting to notice more and more how sloppy the authors of this web site are. Come on Understanding Evolution Team! Get on the ball!

 owl city
Spotted owl subspecies living in different geographic locations show some genetic and morphological differences. This observation is consistent with the idea that new species form through geographic isolation.

I think Hobbits are a Ring Species. Think about it.

  • Experimental results: The first steps of speciation have been produced in several laboratory experiments involving “geographic” isolation. For example, Diane Dodd examined the effects of geographic isolation and selection on fruit flies. She took fruit flies from a single population and divided them into separate populations living in different cages to simulate geographic isolation. Half of the populations lived on maltose-based food, and the other populations lived on starch-based foods. After many generations, the flies were tested to see which flies they preferred to mate with. Dodd found that some reproductive isolation had occurred as a result of the geographic isolation and selection for different food sources in the two environments: “maltose flies” preferred other “maltose flies,” and “starch flies” preferred other “starch flies.” Although, we can’t be sure, these preference differences probably [Editor’s note: “Probably”] existed because selection for using different food sources also affected certain genes involved in reproductive behavior. This is the sort of result we’d expect, if allopatric speciation were a typical mode of speciation.

Once again, I have no problem with this in theory. I don’t doubt that within each kind we have lots of different varieties popping up, like the cat kind producing lions and tigers and panthers and cheetahs, and all varieties being adapted to their environment due to what we could call Natural Selection. On this we have no disagreement. What we don’t have is a solid definition of species. And as the paragraph above admits, the researchers can’t say WHY a group of flies prefers a similar group. Maybe they just like the smell of those who live on the same food. This is why I swore off Taco Bell many years ago.  

The weak examples this site is giving makes me want to send them to the library, or at least Wikipedia. Also, as the point of this site is to explain the evidence for evolution. In the owl example above, or the fly example, we have no case to think the populations gained any new genetic information. Two kids of spotted owl may well have come from a single original kind of spotted owl, but you can get more than 2 million five card hands from a deck of 52. What does it prove? Just like every other example, nothing.You can shuffle, show off, and lose lots of cards without accounting for the creation of a single one, let alone the whole deck. To explain even ONE card, you need a designer.

The most likely explanation, based on all observable data is that these two owl populations, if they started as the same species, lost some information which has caused them to be identifiably different, like the dog varieties, or they are merely expressing specific parts of their genes due to environmental factors like the Galapagos finches. Neither option will turn bacteria into wolves or cabbages, and that, I would like to remind you (And the authors responsible for this web site) is the point of evolution.  A process which turns owls into owls but cannot turn bacteria into cabbages and wolves is NOT evolution. Its just shuffling the cards that were already in the deck.

Why this is so funny to me is because I hear atheists ALL of the time saying “Evolution has proven that there is no God.” In light of this section’s scientific proof, the argument goes like this. “Because owls turn into owls, there is no God.” If Socrates was still with us, I’ll bet he’d have a few follow up questions to that declaration.

The creation story in the Bible says that God made all the kinds, and we would expect that he would make them full of genetic variability so there can be many different varieties resulting through time. A few chapters later Noah takes two of every KIND (not variety) onto the ark, and post-flood those kinds reproduce and spread around the world. This is why we have the great varieties we do with far fewer kinds. As the genes are selected or lost, new varieties arise and display more of the tremendous information possessed in the original kinds, but each variation lacking some information which the earlier generations had. This is why the poodle, while physically distinct from the other dogs (And yet the same species), is also a horrible collection of harmful mutations when compared to the genome of the wolves or even mutts we have today. The observed facts fit the creation model. They do NOT support evolution, and calling this kind of dissemination of existing genes “Evolution” is simply false, as it would be to Play Black Jack and then claim the dealer invented the ace of spades by dealing.

Join me next week for part 18.

Rentafriend2000@hotmail.com

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About rentafriend2000
Rocking my 40's with a heart full of love and muffins, science and technology. Jesus loves me and wants me to totally rock! And I am here to help.

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