Charles Darwin was a brilliant scientist who sought to explain the changes the physical appearances of living organisms and the origin of new species. His observations were spot on but his conclusions and extrapolations were wrong. This is because of limitations in his knowledge. Scientists in Darwin’s day did not appreciate the complexity of the “protoplasm” or the concept of information and programming.
We now know that at a most fundamental level living organisms are characterized by information technology – the specific type of information has been termed “prescriptive” information and instructs on what to do. It is the type of information found in computer programmes and has never been found to occur without an intellect.
Richard Dawkin’s foolish concept of “the blind watchmaker” shows that he obviously does not understand the programming in living organisms or he is pretending not to do so.
The fact is the mechanistic naturalistic construct of the modern synthesis is dead and has been for a long time. Persons interested in a serious discussion on evolution i.e “descent with modification” need to inform themselves by reading a copy of Professor of Microbiology at the University of Chicago, James Shapiro’s :
“Evolution: a view from the twenty-first century”
This blog is aware that there are twist and turns in science and acknowledges that the good thing about science is that it corrects itself . It is in the nature of true science that what is held as true today is cast off tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with this occurring as we search for truth.
This blog also believes that evidence is growing rapidly against the possibility that life and the information associated with is such that abiogenesis could occur by accident in goo and that ” a blind watch maker” is responsible for the design in living orgasms.
HARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES
|Arkhat Abzhanov checks out a selection of Darwin’s finches preserved in the Harvard Museum of Natural History. He and his colleagues discovered a molecule that controls the length of the birds’ beaks, which enhance their ability to survive on available seeds and insects. (Staff photo Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office)|
How Darwin’s finches got their beaks
A gene’s-eye view of evolution
Harvard News Office
Darwin’s finches are the emblems of evolution. The birds he saw on the Galapagos Islands during his famous voyage around the world in 1831-1836 changed his thinking about the origin of new species and, eventually, that of the world’s biologists.
Darwin wondered about the changes in shape of bird beaks from island to island. So-called cactus finches boast longer, more pointed beaks than their relatives the ground finches. Beaks of warbler finches are thinner and more pointed than both. These adaptations make them more fit to survive on available food.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have taken the story one step further. Using modern genetic analyses, they found a molecule that regulates genes involved in shaping the beaks of Darwin finches. “Calmodulin is a protein that binds and activates certain enzymes, which triggers a signal that eventually turns specific genes on or off,” explains Arkhat Abzhanov, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard. These signals alter the behavior of cells responsible for beak sculpturing.
Members of the research team received permission to collect finch eggs from the Galapagos National Park, a group of rocky islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles west of Ecuador. Female finches lay clutches of four to five eggs, one per day. To avoid disruption and abandonment of the nests, the researchers took only the third eggs laid.
In the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, 26 bird embryos were examined, using gene chips that reveal which genes are most active in the heads of the developing finches. This activity was then matched with the size and shapes of adult beaks.
The investigation soon focused on calmodulin as the switch that can turn on genes involved in increasing beak length. This protein had never before been implicated in the development of the skulls and faces of any birds.
“We found that calmodulin was indeed expressed at detectably higher levels in cactus finches compared to ground finches, and thus associated with their longer beaks,” says Clifford Tabin, professor of genetics. “This higher level is both biologically relevant and functionally important for shaping of elongated beaks, which are used in a specialized manner to probe cactus flowers and fruit for pollen, nectar, and seeds.” The same surge of calmodulin was not found in more blunt-beaked ground finches.
A beak at evolution
When Charles Darwin first saw the Galapagos Islands he described them as 10 islands “situated under the equator.” He noted that they originated as volcanoes and were pockmarked with craters. “Some of the craters, surmounting the larger islands, are of immense size, and they rise to a height of between three and four thousand feet.”
Noting differences in the feeding habits of the finches, Darwin wrote that cactus finches “may often be seen climbing about the flowers of the great cactus trees.” Seeing the diversity of beaks and other structures in the closely related finches, he wrote in his notebook, “one might really fancy that one species had been taken and modified for different ends.”
Darwin elaborated on this idea when he published his intellectual bombshell, the “Origin of Species,” some 25 years later in 1859. He speculated that birds, resembling starlings, came to the Galapagos Islands by wind. Evolution took over and different groups developed different diets. When, he wrote, “an immigrant first settled on one of the islands, … it would undoubtedly be exposed to different conditions in the different islands (where) it would have to compete with a different set of organisms. … Then, natural selection would probably favor different varieties in the different islands.”
In other words, beaks changed as the birds developed different tastes for fruits, seeds, or insects picked from the ground or cacti. Long, pointed beaks made some of them more fit for picking seeds out of cactus fruits. Shorter, stouter beaks served best for eating seeds found on the ground. Eventually, the immigrants evolved into 14 separate species, each with its own song, food preferences, and beak shapes. Warbler finches, for example, catch insects in beaks that are sharper and more slender than those of cactus eaters.
For the future, Abzhanov notes, “there remain seven or eight other unique-beaked Darwin finches to explore. These birds serve as an ideal starting point [for studying the role of calmodulin], because they are very closely related yet very diverse in shape and structure.
“We also expect calmodulin to be important in other groups of long-beaked birds. However, this is not going to be the whole story for birds such as storks and ibises. Increasing calmodulin activity leads to a modest 10-14 percent increase in beak length, which matches well with the length differences between cactus and ground finches but additional mechanisms might be required for even longer beaks.”
Abzhanov, Tabin, and their colleagues at Harvard, Princeton, and the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria, published the result of their finch research in the Aug. 3 issue of the journal Nature.
Asked about the possibility of calmodulin in the heads of humans, Abzhanov answers, “At this point we don’t know whether mammals in general or humans in particular employ calmodulin during development of their skulls and faces. It is, however, very likely as calmodulin appears to be involved in very basic craniofacial developmental processes. We do know it is expressed at the right time and in the right place in the development of mice embryos. We will certainly pursue its role(s) during both mouse and chicken development.”
|The warbler finch (top) boasts a thin, sharp beak best suited for spearing insects. Ground finches’ shorter, more robust beaks (center) are adapted for eating seeds found on the ground. Those of cactus finches (bottom) are shaped for getting seeds from cacti. (Harvard Medical School and Margaret Bowman)|
The essence of Enlightenment Thought is that Man is now of age and should control his existence and destiny by reason. He does not need a God.
Enlightenment Thought provides a platform for the naturalist worldview which is replacing the Judeo-Christian worldview in Western Democracies.
In the naturalist worldview it is immoral to deny a woman an abortion or to restrict sexual expression.
The successors of Enlightenment Thought embrace and strongly defend Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Species. Ostensibly this is because of the impeccable scientific credentials of the theory but there are other reasons why naturalists would support the theory. The theory purports to describe a mechanism by which the complex bodies of living organisms could be sculpted without the need for a designer (God). Darwin’s theory appears to put an end to the need for “a God Hypothesis” i.e that the world and the organisms in it are the product of a Great Being who exists outside of nature i.e is supernatural.
Darwin’s himself suggested that natural selection – a process that allowed hereditary traits which favoured survival and reproduction to persist in a population – was the sculpting mechanism. Darwin did not know what the nature of the hereditary material in living organisms was so it was left to others to complete his theory.
The discovery of genes and DNA lead evolutionary biologists to suggest that random variations in DNA was the change upon which natural selection acted. The dual phenomena of random DNA mutations and natural selection became known as theModern Synthesis and is the standard mechanism of evolution taught in textbook.
Evolutionary Biologist Allen MacNeill writes on the Modern Synthesis at :
MacNeill believes evolution to be true i.e that species arise from pre-existent species but acknowledges that the mechanism by which this may have occurred is not settled.
The Modern Synthesis is Dead – Long Live the Evolving Synthesis!
It has been almost exactly a century and a half since Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published, and half a century since the conference at the University of Chicago where the “triumph” of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” was celebrated. So, isn’t it a little odd that some well-respected scientists and historians of science are proclaiming in this celebratory year that the modern evolutionary synthesis is dead?
For example, Eugene Koonin, senior investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, and National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, has published two essays on the current status of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”:
The Origin at 150: Is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight?
Trends in Genetics, 25(11), November 2009, pp. 473-475.
Abstract: The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin and the 150th jubilee of the On the Origin of Species could prompt a new look at evolutionary biology. The 1959 Origin centennial was marked by the consolidation of the modern synthesis. The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair. The hallmark of the Darwinian discourse of 2009 is the plurality of evolutionary processes and patterns. Nevertheless, glimpses of a new synthesis might be discernible in emerging universals of evolution.