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DNA Mapping Provides Further Evidence For Evolution

by RonChusid

It’s time to regard the creationists as no better than the flat-earthers. Although there never has been any true scientific controversy over evolution, opponents of science (including those who hide behind the intelligent design name, as well as people like Deepak Chopra who cite the same arguments as the religious fundamentalists) have had their position totally blown away with completion of the mapping of chimpanzee DNA.

“The fresh unraveling of chimpanzee DNA allows an unprecedented gene-to-gene comparison with the human genome, mapped in 2001, and makes plain the evolutionary processes through which chimps and humans arose from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago.”

23 Responses to “DNA Mapping Provides Further Evidence For Evolution”

  1. Ron

    LOL! Deepak…

  2. my mother told me i was the closest thing to an ape she had ever seen.now i know why thanks to dna

  3. Chopra did come under attack in many blogs for essentially taking the fundamentalist line in some recent blog posts of his.

    I guess we can say this latest discovery has really made a monkey out of him, and his fellow opponentss of science.

  4. Perhaps some creationists think evolution was the tool by which God Created man. When it comes to creationism, the issue is not evolution, it is what started the process. I believe it was God, others believe it was chance. Why would you advocate that as a society we be so closed-minded as to not include the possibility of an intelligent system designer who built us all of the same genetic material. And of course since we are all built of the same stuff, some species are closer than others, one species being the closest. For humans, this happens to chimps. I wonder how much of our DNA maps to to a dog? 70%, 80%, 90%…?

  5. Some people beieve that God created the universe and set things off with evolution ultimately occuring. There’s no problem there as it does not deny science. The problem is that many supporters of creationism/intelligent design also invent claims to debunk evolution. This is a serious problem as the concepts of evolution are the bedrock of modern biology. Students who are not taught or do not understand evolution and related concepts are not able to understand modern biology. Already countries including North Korea and India are surpassing us in biological research due to the restrictions imposed by the religious right.

    Rejecting intelligent design is not being closed minded. To be open minded does not mean accpeting any argument, regardless of how absurd. A simple explanation based upon a creator was fine for people four thousand years ago who did not have the scientifc background to understand evolution. Our understanding has improved we do not have to limit ourselves to such explanations. We no more have to teach intelligent design as an opposing viewpoint than we have to teach that babies come from storks, that the moon landing was faked for tv, or that the holocaust didn’t occur. Sure there are people who hold all of these viewpoints, but none of them hold up or are deserving of teaching as an alternative viewpoint.

    The earth is not flat. Man landed on the moon. Man and apes evoloved from a common ancestor. All of these are facts for which there is no need to teach alternative viewpoints as science.

  6. Pete,

    I hope you will excuse our hardworking blog administrators for giving the impression we are close-minded. They both keep up full time jobs, families and the blog. I only have the job and a dog…

    There are many who believe that evolution was God’s design concept and, with all things religous, I prefer to respect others beliefs and that they uphold the essential faith that sustains them. What some of us get a little irritated with is the pressure to put the “intelligent design” concept in public education.

    As has been discussed before here, evolution “theory” is science, like many other scientific theories, there are aspects that need fine tuning. Future technology may make this possible. The fact that we didn’t have an electron microscope for a long time after we developed the periodic table did not keep us from using the theory quite effectively (when there wasn’t missing knowledge spoiling the plan).

    Public school teachers have quite enough to teach, especially the stuff covered on NCLB tests. I am with Gandhi that “Science without humanity” is a sin. When it comes too practicing science, politcs, education, etc: the religious beliefs/moral values of the person should certainly be apart of their practice. But to put the religious beliefs of one group into a science class curriculum is what many of us consider outside the role of the public education system. That is a parental and church role which should not be usurped or interfered with.

    If I remember the information from the human genome project, we do have a lot of the same genes as other species. Worms, and other invertebrates included…
    We know we share a lot anyway given the number of medications that can be used in both species.

    You might be interested in a book I just finished. “Speaking My Mind” by Tony Campola. He is an avowed evengelical who has some very wonderful integrations of Einsteins theory of relativity into creation and other Biblical passages. The book covers a lot more very well. Not having been raised Christian, I have a MUCH better understanding of the discord between what I knew of the Bible and what I see and hear from some Christians.

  7. Ginny,

    “Public school teachers have quite enough to teach, especially the stuff covered on NCLB tests.”

    That raises another related point I had seen in an article from a teacher. Suppose a teacher buys that they should teach intelligent design. Ok, what’s the curriculum? Once they get beyond the point that there is a designer, there isn’t any more. Many of the ID supporters might want their objections to evolution taught, but the objections they raise are not meaningful arguments and just show an ignorance of evolution and have no place in a science class.

    “They both keep up full time jobs” Can’t use working as an excuse for not being here much this week, but I was on the road Wednesday through this morning and the hotel had WiFi which went on and off. Now I’m at my “summer home” (back at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for Labor Day) where at least I have more consistent WiFi. Of course I’m now headed for the pool, and will be at the Jazz concerts most of the weekend so I don’t know how much I’ll be on line.

  8. Ron,

    Hope you remembered the sunblock, lucky duck. (At least the part of you that has those genes:) I will have CD104.3 on and try to think of a pleasant shade of sea green…..

    I haven’t seen some of the stuff they want in the curriculum specifically, Just that the
    conservative think tanks (and home schools) have come up with their own ideas phrased to sound like legitimate science.

    And, it’s one thing to use Einstein’s theory as a way to answer the questions of how your religous beliefs might be possible. If it’s going to taught, it should be in comparative religions classes.

    Hope the appletinis and jazz are really smoooth

  9. Oh,

    Just because this strikes me as an oxymoron: evolution is intelligent design?
    I personally see a lot of flaws in the whole system. Indeed we are now coping with
    problems that didn’t occur before because we save the lives of those who would have died.

    I always hesitate to say this because people take it the wrong way. The first time I heard my beliefs on “God” articulated widely was when “Star Wars” came out. In creating a believable religion for his story, Lucas put into the public mind something that many of us can identify with more than any of our world religions.

    The Force is BOTH good and bad. It is not right or wrong, it just is. We can use it, abuse it, live with it and be awed by it. And be grateful, since we would not have evolved without it.

    Then there are those amusing coincidences in life. My brain refused to do anymore thinking or reading last night so I watched “Evolution” (the movie).

    May the Force be with You

    Have peace and long life.

  10. Ginny,

    Some of these arguments remind me of older arguments. The argument that God took genetic material from other animals, making it look like there was evolution, reminds me of the argument that God created fossils which appeard to be thousands of years old by carbon dating to test people’s faith when he actually created the earth much sooner.

    No appletinis yet, but we did have frozen strawberry daquaris today, and will be getting ready for dinner soon. There may yet be appletinis for us today.

  11. I come from a long line of farmers. One memory of grandfather is of him saying that we are a part of all life, and need to have respect for the animals we raise and kill for our food. A sheep or dog isn’t very smart, but it is aware of its surroundings, and should be treated with respect.
    As a Chemistry Instructor, I point out to my students that we share at least one large molecule with plants! Hemeglobin and chlorophyll have the same basic arrangement of atoms, differing mostly in that one has an iron atom at the center, and the other has magnesium. Mollusks use the same molecule with copper.
    This is just another link in the long chain that has led Darwin’s theory to become accepted as fact by the majority of the scientific community. Intelligent design is a statement of faith, and has no place in a scientific discussion. It offers no starting point for prediction or farther research.
    Science asks what has happened, and what could happen (or be). Religion asks why. We must never confuse the two.

  12. John,

    Having been brought up by a scientist and raised in a liberal church, I began fairly early wondering why some people seemed so eager to prosyletise. Now I put this trying to use science to explain their faith as another example of how some people know that they really don’t believe what they say, they are trying to convince themselves.

    Your grandfather sounds like someone who had a lot of intuitive knowledge he trusted and was able to put into words. Makes me think of the 7th Unitarian-Universalist Principle:

    To Respect the interdependent web of which we are a part”

  13. I’m just going to weigh in here briefly because ultimately I feel that big concern for most of us is that Intelligent Design should not be taught in public schools. I feel that is an issue that all Democrats and many Independents agree on, as well as some Republicans.

    That’s the fight I believe, that is most important at this time. Scientists have their own set of beliefs based on years of studying their fields. Theologists and philosophers have yet another set of beliefs, based too on years of studying their fields.

    John says above “Science asks what has happened, and what could happen (or be). Religion asks why. We must never confuse the two.”

    Yet, there are some who have spent years studying science, theology and philosophy in effort to some how draw a correlation.

    Is it wrong that someone should ask the question is there more to genetics, DNA and evolution than meets the eye? I don’t believe it is wrong, because science itself is constantly expanding and new discoveries are made each day.

    Is it wrong that theologists and philosophers continue to ask the questions that they do? For those who have made that their life work, no it is not wrong, for they to constantly expand and make new discoveries in the realm of the metaphysics of life.

    Personally I enjoyed reading Deepak Chopra’s posts on his blog on the subject of Intelligent Design. He does not seek to advocate that Intelligent Design be taught in public schools. His posts on the subject were an attempt to bring the conversation of Intelligent Design to a higher level. One that transcends politics and one that goes beyond the beliefs of Christians who have tried to usurp the Creationism theories as the “only view”.

    In all religions and spiritual thought processes there are creationism theories and Christianity does not hold the lock and key. In science there are varous theories as well, biological, physical, chemical, environmental.

    Each person is entitled to their own belief system. The big issue, again is that one set belief system not be forced upon others in our public schools.

  14. Pamela,

    No, Chopra’s comments were not to bring the conversation of intelligent design to a higher level. Chopra raised the same nonsense objections to evolution as the religious fundamentalists, totally distorting the science. His comments to not transcend politics. They help to undermine those want science to be taught in science classes and they promote the agenda of the religious right.

    For this Chopra is now widely criticized for his comments. We cannot at one point criticize the religious right for making arguments and then excuse it when Chopra makes the exact same arguments. Arguments made out of ignorance are wrong regardless of who makes them. Opposition to science is harmful regardless of whether it is to promote religious fundamentalism or Chopra’s new age beliefs.

  15. Ron

    His readers are by and far people of the new age spiritual ilk. At some point perhaps I can find a transcript of what was discussed on Larry King the day he put his first post up about the issue, but my point here is that everyone is entitled to their views. Scientists have their views, philosphers have their views, theologists have their views.

    Honestly I feel this issue will continue to the end of mankind. What’s at stake is whether it is taught in the schools. Nothing Chopra said advocated that it should be taught in the schools.

    What he offered was a view of Intelligent Design from the perspective of a different spiritual and religious background. I believe his point was that if we are going to discuss this from a religious perspective the issue is NOT owned by the fundamentalists. For anyone who believes in God or a higher power, that is not Christianity based, he makes a good point.

    God / a higher power doesn’t belong to the fundamentalists. If Chopra was criticized by scientists, so be it. He’s entitled to his beliefs.

    His questions in his intial post weren’t directed to scientists but to the spiritual community.

    In defense of Deepak Chopra I will say that at a time in my life when I was searching for help, direction and comfort caused by the loss of both parents and my daughters father all within a few years span, some of his books helped me to find peace of mind. For that I am grateful and I respect that he has offered the same comfort and peace of mind to others as well.

  16. Pamela,

    If Chopra is undermining the science of evolution by making false claims about it, he is playing a part in undermining science education in the schools. The argument which must be made to defend against the attacks on education by the religious right is that evolution has been established by science. When Chopra argues against the scientific basis for evolution and questions its validity he makes it easier for the religious right to teach intelligent design in the schools.

    Sure he is entitled to his beliefs, but he is not entitled to his own scientifc facts. What he is doing is not presenting beliefs. He is pretending to be discussing the science of evolution, except he is presenting bogus scientific claims. Once he gets into the act of arguing against evolution by making the same bogus crticisms as the religious right is making he moves beyond just presenting beliefs.

    Knowing that the religious movement to prevent the teaching of science in the schools includes both religious fundamentalists and other groups such as Chopra is hardly a good sign.

  17. Ron

    I’ve read over his posts on this and I don’t see that he is attacking science. He is saying that science is evolving and there is more we can learn. Isn’t that the basis of science that we are always studying and learning new things? But I admittantly am not of a scientific background, like you, so I see this debate from a philosophical point. Because I find the questions he posed interesting that does not mean I feel it should be taught in school.

    He also said on Larry King that this is subject perhaps due conversation on a higher education level not in the public schools. Those on the fundamentalist side of the debate on Larry King Live sure as heck did not agree with his points of view.

    Here’s the trascript from Larry King Live: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/23/lkl.01.html

    I don’t want to see ID in public schools in any way shape or form, but I do think that there are always things we can learn and science is making new discoveries every days.

    Chopra said at the end of his first post that “No credible scientific theory has answered these dilemmas, and progress is being discouraged, I imagine, thanks to fundamentalist Christians. By hijacking the whole notion of intelligent design, they have tarred genuine scientific issues with the stain of religious prejudice.”

    He was referring to the questions that he other scientists have asked over the years including Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

    I understand you disagree, I’m just stating that outside of the debate on ID in schools I found his posts to be interesting and I happen to respect him for my own personal reasons. That’s all.

  18. Pamela,

    He has certainly attacked science. On at least two blogs he has posted lists of bogus objections to evolution. He has made multiple false claims about the science.

    He is not engaging in a purely philosophical debate. Chopra has been engaging in a debate over scientfic issues. If he is going to discuss the science, the standard he should be held to is the scientifc facts. When he invents scientifc arguments to claim evolution says things it does not, or to falsely claim evolution does not explain certain things, he is spreading misinformation which helps the fundamentalists.

    When Chopra said “no credible scientif theory has answered these dilemmas. . .” he was totally wrong. He totally mistated the science of evolution and created dilemas which do not exist. He claims there are no scientifc answers for things which have been anwered. By spreading such falsehoods about science he is undermining scientific education in the same manner the religious fundamentalists are. These false dilemas he speaks of are the exact same pseudo-science being spread by the Discovery Institute and other advocates of creationism and ID to try to convince people that evolution shouldn’t be taught in the schools.

    You might respect him for other reasons, but on this issue he has sided with the religious right in opposition to science.

  19. Ron

    I guess I didn’t realize that Einstein and Stephen Hawkings were considered pseudo-scientists, but then I’m no science expert. I could have sworn that reading that transcript he disagreed with the religious right. I know they disagreed with him. Oh well, more important thigs to be concerned about today.

  20. Pamela,

    I certainly didn’t call either Einstein or Hawkings a pseudo-scientist. I solely called Chopra a pseudo-scientist for his use of fundamentalist arguments against evolution which he claimed to be scientific objections. Chopra makes statements about evolution, makes statements about the work of other scientists such as Einstein, and throws in words about quantum mechanics. However, when he does this he butchers the facts. Just mentioning the work of other scientists, when he does so incorrectly, does not make Chopra a scientist.

    Chopra is not disagreeing with religious right–he is repeating their arguments. For example, the list of topics which he falsely claims aren’t explained by evolution in your earlier link to his blog are the exact same arguments spread by the religious right.

  21. Ron

    Maybe it’s just that I don’t know all that much about science… I read his posts on ID and I don’t see that he uses their arguments or denies the existence of evolution. He’s Hindu and Vedanta and their views are far different from fundamentalists, they are far more esoteric.

    Regardless, he’s a liberal – a very liberal, liberal at that. There are liberals who believe in something more than evolution. Those liberals also believe the debate over Intelligent Design doesn’t belong in our schools, we can’t tell them not to believe in what they believe or not to talk about it because they muck up the fight against the Fundies. Chopra stated clearly that the debate does not belong in politics. Honestly I am sorry I even mentioned him here in the previous post. I just thought what he was saying was interesting.

  22. Pamela,

    His arguments are the exact arguments used by the creationists. Go back to the first article you linked to on this in the comments and see this objections to evolution. Each point there is both bunk and a standard right wing talking point on evolution.

    In the scientific community there is no debate over evolution. It is established as the basis of modern biology. Those outside of the scientific community who spread these nonsense claims are wrong on the science regardless of whether they are politically liberal or conservative (with the vast majority of them being conservative).

    While they may hold theological beliefs beyond science, this does not provide justification for making unfounded criticism on established science and falsely describing what evolution does and does not explain.

    It is interesting that you bring up his religion. I read an article last week about how India is surpassing the United States in biological/genetic research. The article did comment on how evolution did not present the same problems for their religion as it does for Christianity. Unfortuantely Chopra does not show the same understanding of evolution as these Indian scientists do.

  23. A bit of levity from The Onion:

    Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory
    August 17, 2005 | Issue 41•33

    KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held “theory of gravity” is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

    “Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.