L’evoluzione non è darwiniana: studio della Rockefeller University smentisce il gradualismo


Risultati immagini per Rockefeller University

Quando iniziai a presentare le tesi antievoluzioniste era il 2002 e in una corrispondenza con il professore Giuseppe Sermonti (https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Sermonti) e il dott. Mihael Georgiev (https://blog.libero.it/LADESTRA/8943690.html) la diatriba era tra chi sosteneva la malafede degli evoluzionisti e chi la loro incapacità di vedere al di fuori dei loro preconcetti.

Sono passati 16 anni e dopo tante ricerche si può dire con assoluta certezza che il modello dell’evoluzione della specie non ha avuto riscontro, cito l’esperimento del dott. Lenski (https://www.ariannaeditrice.it/articolo.php?id_articolo=21884) durato decenni, o la scoperta del DNA spazzatura che non è spazzatura (https://associazioneaiso.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/progetto-encode/), l’esperimento sulla ricerca della prima donna al mondo denominato Eva mitocondriale (https://antidarwin.wordpress.com/tag/eva-mitocondriale/).

Sono solo alcune delle ricerche scientifiche che confutano tutto il darwinismo e l’evoluzione. Ma cosa dire poi di quanto ha rivelato il professor J. Sanford con il suo studio e la sua ricerca presso la Cornell University? Leggendo il suo libro si scoprono importanti dati relativi al DNA e alla sua decadenza, proprio il contrario di quanto affermato dagli evoluzionisti. Va ricordato che Sanford era un ateo evoluzionista e solo dopo avere letto il libro di Francis Collins, capo ricercatore della mappatura del genoma umano, in cui spiegava come il DNA fosse il linguaggio di DIO (http://www.libertaepersona.org/wordpress/2015/09/il-linguaggio-di-dio-di-francis-collins-responsabile-del-progetto-genoma-392/) ha deciso di studiare il genoma e il DNA uscendo dal paradigma evoluzionista.

Anche Collins era un ateo e come lui lo era Antony Flew, filosofo della scienza a cui tutto il mondo accademico ateo si rivolgeva sino al 2004 quando sconvolse il mondo universitario con la sua dichiarazione pubblica:

“sono socratico, vado dove mi porta la ragione, ho sbagliato per 50 anni,

Dio esiste”

Ho riportato solo esempi di evoluzionisti che studiando la vita in modo scientifico e non ideologico hanno completamente cambiato visione, non è certo che abbiano ragione, assolutamente, ma la verità è una: chi crede in Dio non cerca di porre la sua fede come certezza scientifica, mentre chi crede nell’evoluzione utilizza la scienza per manipolare la verità arrivando anche a falsificare i libri di testo notizie di attualità.

Se provassimo a fermare le persone per strada chiedendo loro: “da dove arriva la vita?”,  stiamo certi che molte di loro risponderebbero con sicurezza che la vita è nata da un ipotetico brodo primordiale, cosa falsa, tutti gli esperimenti indicano: vita da vita.

Oggi per ovviare a questa idea si cerca di fare risalire la comparsa della vita sulla terra dallo spazio: Ma anche in questo caso non si risolve la questione, la vita dove sarebbe nata?

Nell’universo dove le condizioni sono assolutamente molto difficili?

E come sarebbe nata?

E la questione dell’Informazione e della complessità come si sarebbe generata?

Le domande si moltiplicano e le risposta mancano; passare dalla scienza alla fantascienza non fa onore a coloro che sostengono ipotesi materialiste. Il rispetto è importante e se si sbaglia è giusto riconoscere lo sbaglio, al contrario oggi coloro che continuano a essere in torto manifestano disprezzo verso i loro antagonisti. In Passato il dibattito e il dubbio erano il seme della conoscenza (https://iltalebano.com/2012/04/19/platone-e-democrito-leterno-dibattito-tra-idealisti-e-materialisti-quando-dalla-confutazione-si-passa-alla-delegittimazione-dellavversario/).

Fabrizio Fratus

Risultati immagini per Stoeckler e Thaler

Stoeckler e Thaler

La teoria di Darwin sarebbe nata già morta se lui non avesse aggirato il problema dell’assenza di gradualismo.

Di Enzo Pennetta

Adesso è definitivo: l’evoluzione non è graduale.

La teoria darwiniana implica cambiamenti graduali, è lo stesso Darwin ad affermarlo:

Come mai la natura non avrebbe fatto un salto da una struttura all’altra? Secondo la nostra dottrina d’elezine naturale possiamo capire chiaramente perchè essa nol possa fare; perchè l’elezione naturale non può agire che approfittando delle piccole variazioni successive; essa non può mai fare un salto, ma deve procedere per gradi corti e lenti.

  1. Darwin, Sull’origine delle specie – Zanichelli 1864, pag. 153

La mancanza di fossili intermedi (che aveva provocato la fine della teoria di Lamarck) fu giustificata da Darwin con l’argomento della “imperfezione delle memorie fossili”, cioè con il fatto che la stragrande maggioranza dei reperti stessi va perduta essendo il processo di fossilizzazione raro.

Ma con la possibilità di studiare il DNA, e in particolare quello mitocondriale, è emerso in un recentissimo studiodi Mark Stoeckle della Rockefeller University di New York e David Thaler dell’università di Basilea, che anche con questo approccio si evidenzia una mancanza di passaggi intermedi.

Il dato più evidente è l’origine quasi contemporanea della maggior parte delle specie, da Phys Org traiamo:

È la biologia dei libri di testo, per esempio, che le specie con grandi popolazioni lontane – pensate che le formiche, i ratti, gli umani – diventeranno geneticamente diversi nel tempo.

Ma è vero?

“La risposta è no”, ha detto Stoeckle, autore principale dello studio, pubblicato sulla rivista Human Evolution .

Per i 7,6 miliardi di persone del pianeta, 500 milioni di passeri domestici, o 100.000 Actitis macularius, la diversità genetica “è pressappoco la stessa”, ha detto all’Afp.

Il risultato più sorprendente dello studio, forse, è che nove delle 10 specie sulla Terra oggi, inclusi gli esseri umani, sono venute da 100.000 a 200.000 anni fa.

Questa conclusione è molto sorprendente, e ho combattuto contro di essa più duramente che potevo“, ha detto Thaler all’AFP.

Questa reazione è comprensibile: come si spiega il fatto che il 90 percento della vita animale, geneticamente parlando, ha all’incirca la stessa età?

C’è stato qualche evento catastrofico 200.000 anni fa che ha quasi cancellato la lavagna?

“Questa conclusione è molto sorprendente, e ho combattuto contro di essa più duramente che potevo”afferma Thaler, una frase che testimonia l’esistenza di una resistenza pregiudiziale del mondo scientifico verso ogni fatto che si ponga come smentita del vigente paradigma neodarwiniano.

L’origine simultanea di così tante specie è già un problema per le dinamiche evolutive correnti in quanto non è noto un evento avvenuto 200 mila anni fa che possa aver determinato questo fenomeno, ma quello che va sottolineato è altro, sempre nell’intervista su Phys Org, ed è il confine netto tra i genomi:

Eppure – un’altra scoperta inaspettata dello studio – le specie hanno confini genetici molto chiari, e non c’è molto in mezzo.

“Se gli individui sono stelle, le specie sono galassie”, ha detto Thaler. “Sono ammassi compatti nella vastità dello spazio vuoto delle sequenze”.

L’assenza di specie “intermedie” è qualcosa che ha lasciato perplesso anche Darwin, ha affermato.

Secondo il criterio di falsificabilità stabilito dallo stesso Darwin e riportato all’inizio del presente articolo la teoria dell’evoluzione per selezione naturale è da considerarsi invalidata e il continuare a sostenerla rappresenta un caso di resistenza di un establishment che, per motivazioni che vanno oltre quella fisiologica individuata da T.S. Kuhn, ostacola il progresso scientifico. Queste motivazioni risiedono nel ruolo fondante della teoria per quello che riguarda la struttura socio economica, questo accadeva sin dall’inizio ed è oggi ancor più radicato nella visione neoliberista, quando quest’ultima cadrà anche il darwinismo avrà i giorni contati.

Per quel che ci riguarda si tratta solo di un’ennesima prova dell’inadeguatezza della teoria darwiniana non solo originaria ma in ogni sua declinazione successiva, per questo motivo su CS gli articoli sul darwinismo sono meno frequenti ritenendo la falsificazione del darwinismo una “vexata quaestio”,  un fatto negato che rappresenta per il mondo scientifico un vero elefante nella stanza del quale prima o poi ci si dovrà rendere conto.

E quando questo avverrà volgeranno lo sguardo avanti, e ci troveranno lì, dove li abbiamo preceduti da anni.

 

Mr. Dr. Oktar Babuna, Neurosurgeon, 3rd International Conference on the Origin of Life and the Universe, April 28th, 2018-Istanbul


Risultati immagini per Oktar Babuna

Il video dell’intervento del dott. Oktar Babuna

https://en.a9.com.tr/Mr-Dr-Oktar-Babuna-Neurosurgeon-3rd-International-Conference-on-the-Origin-of-273655

OKTAR BABUNA

Creation in the Qur’an

SLIDE 2:

The fact that Muslims believe in, and the Qur’an clearly states, is that God created everything.

Therefore, it is impossible for a Muslim to advocate the theory of evolution, which is a pagan superstition dating back to the time of the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, explaining everything with coincidences.

SLIDE 3:

God surely could have created the living organisms through evolution if He had wished so. But the Qur’an does not contain any such information or any verse supporting the gradual formation of life forms as claimed by evolutionists.

Had such a manner of creation existed, we would have seen it in the verses of the Qur’an with its elaborate explanations.

SLIDE 4:

But on the contrary, God informs us in the Qur’an that life and the universe is created miraculously with God’s commandment, ‘Be’.

L’impossibilità della «macroevoluzione»  


Risultati immagini per Dominique Tassot

Dominique Tassot  

Il «gradualismo» rese credibile la concezione di Darwin; ovvero l’idea che l’accumulo di piccoli cambiamenti nell’arco di migliaia d’anni finissero per illustrare il divario che separa i generi o le famiglie. Venne dunque ammessa la visione di una continuità universale nella natura.

Però il vivente è discontinuo, ce lo dimostrano chiaramente l’anatomia, la biologia molecolare e la genetica. Tra il collo di una zebra e quello di una giraffa, per riprendere l’esempio di Lamark, non cambia soltanto la lunghezza, ma anche il numero di vertebre. Per restare flessibile, un collo lungo necessita di un maggior numero di vertebre. In anatomia, si parla sempre di numeri interi. Tuttavia il processo che aggiunge una vertebra al collo di un mammifero non ha nulla in comune con la trazione del dito che allunga un elastico. Darwin, per primo, avrebbe volentieri ammesso che la selezione naturale non è in grado di fornire un qualsiasi organo a una pianta o ad un animale: la selezione naturale si esercita su organi pre-esistenti; non avrebbe saputo spiegarne l’apparizione. Occorreva quindi immaginare un fattore di variazione, oggi si direbbe un «creatore di nuove informazioni». Per questo Darwin aggiunse l’eredità dei caratteri acquisiti, ma dopo le esperienze di Weiseman (1892) , fu necessario abbandonare questo convincimento.

La soluzione di scorta, immaginata dai neo-darwinisti, consiste nel ricorrere alla mutazione aleatoria. Se paragoniamo il genoma ad un lungo messaggio formato da frasi (i geni), composte da parole (i codoni) e da lettere (le basi), possiamo immaginare che le lettere si spostino e modifichino il messaggio: ecco una mutazione. Essa è ereditaria, in quanto influisce direttamente sul cromosoma, che è l’elemento di transito al momento della moltiplicazioni cellulare. Grazie a de Vries, che pubblicò nel 1909 « Specie e varietà, loro origine per mutazione » e soprattutto dopo gli esperimenti condotti da Thomas Morgan (1866-1945) sul moscerino dell’aceto a partire dagli anni venti, siamo riusciti a completare centinaia, anzi migliaia di diverse mutazioni. Per esempio, siamo riusciti a far uscire dei piedi al posto di antenne e viceversa (mutazione antenna-podice) oppure a fare nascere mosche senza ali né occhi, ecc. Nei vegetali, siamo stati in grado di produrre una varietà di arance senza semi e abbiamo costantemente creato nuove varietà di rose o di tulipani.

Esiste in natura la variabilità del genoma; essa è favorita dalla riproduzione sessuata, ma è altresì ben visibile nei batteri. Abbiamo visto apparire varietà di piante resistenti a un erbicida, o microbi resistenti agli antibiotici. Ora però, a settanta anni di distanza, ci rendiamo conto dei limiti della variabilità, spontanea o provocata, negli esseri viventi.

La mutagenesi non è più considerata la strada del futuro per quanto concerne la creazione di varietà domestiche. Nel 2008, nel corso di una conferenza internazionale tenutasi a Roma, il Prof. Maciej Giertych, professore emerito di Dendrologia presso l’Accademia delle Scienze polacca, dichiarava:

«La maggior parte dei laboratori chiudono i loro programmi di mutagenesi. Con questa tecnica è stata ottenuta una quantità molto ridotta di varietà utili, che sono “utili” solo dal punto di vista dell’uomo. Alcune forme nane permettono di bloccare i massi con le loro radici oppure di decorare i giardini con delle rocce. Alcune piante particolarmente sensibili possono servire per controllare il livello di inquinamento. Alcune piante ornamentali sono state private di pigmenti naturali tramite mutagenesi. In ogni caso, le piante ottenute sono biologicamente più povere e meno resistenti dei loro ceppi non mutati. Esse sono state private di caratteri utili nelle condizioni naturali. Sappiamo bene che numerose mutazioni sono deleterie e le temiamo. Noi stessi cerchiamo di proteggerci e di proteggere le riserve genetiche selvatiche di diversi agenti mutageni. Abbiamo limitato gli esperimenti nucleari, le esposizioni ai raggi X, all’amianto. (…) Un adattamento che impedisce a un diserbante chimico di agire è positivo, soltanto nella misura in cui protegge le funzioni esistenti. Non fornisce alcuna nuova informazione che spiani la strada a nuove funzioni o nuovi organi. In questo caso non si riesce a trovare alcuna argomentazione in favore della teoria dell’evoluzione»

     L’evoluzione ci viene sempre presentata come un miglioramento. In realtà però la mutazione è visibile piuttosto dagli albini oppure nei non vedenti nati! I mutanti che vediamo oggi non sono dei superuomini fantascientifici, ma individui segnati da una malformazione congenita oppure dei disabili. I bambini con sei dita oppure le pecore con cinque zampe non sono affatto avvantaggiati, e, laddove possibile, li si sottopone a interventi chirurgici.

Questo insegnamento viene corroborato dagli esperimenti condotti su alcuni batteri. Sono stati scelti questi organismi, in quanto particolarmente sensibili alle mutazioni e in quanto si riproducono in maniera talmente rapida che in una settimana di laboratorio si succedono cinquanta generazioni di questi esseri, ovvero l’equivalente di mille cinquecento anni nell’uomo! Il biologo Richard Lanski, e la sua équipe,  sono famosi per aver intrapreso da quaranta anni,  presso l’università del Michigan, un programma relativo alla mutazione di cinquanta ceppi del batterio Escherichia Coli (il colibacillo). Le variazioni ottenute riguardano tutto al più lo spessore della membrana cellulare e l’assimilazione di alcuni sostrati. Si tratta di adattamenti di scarsa importanza, mai di veri e propri salti evolutivi come potrebbe essere per esempio il passaggio ad un essere pluricellulare. Come si può credere a partire da questi risultati all’apparizione per mutazione di un nuovo organo funzionale nel ceppo che ne era sprovvisto? Come faceva notare ironicamente il Prof. Pierre-Paul Grassé, se si volesse dimostrare la stabilità delle specie, non si potrebbe far meglio di tutti questi esperimenti sulle mutazioni!

In effetti si tratta sempre di cambiamenti di portata minima, che vertono sui caratteri cosiddetti «secondari» come il colore degli occhi, la quantità di peli o la forma del naso nell’uomo, ciò che talvolta denominiamo impropriamente «microevoluzione». Questi fenomeni ben attestati di adattamento oppure variazioni ereditarie restano impossibili da paragonare a quanto sarebbe una «macroevoluzione», ossia un’innovazione organica reale, un salto da una specie ad un’altra che costituirebbe l’evoluzione in senso stretto.

Se ci trovassimo nell’ambito della scienza ordinaria, questa teoria sarebbe stata abbandonata da molto tempo, dato che non sono mai messe in dubbio la variabilità all’interno della specie e la capacità di adattamento del vivente. All’epoca, Darwin ebbe un grande antagonista in Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), uno svizzero specialista di pesci fossili, membro fondatore dell’Accademia delle Scienze americana, colui che ha conferito questo nome all’era «glaciale». Agassiz definiva l’essere vivente proprio in virtù della sia «pieghevolezza», ossia a seguito delle grandi differenze e delle varianti che si notano all’interno della specie tra gli individui: differenze di dimensioni, di forma, di peluria ecc. Pensiamo ai pony delle Shetland, al cavallo da tiro, al chihuahua e al San Bernardo. In questi casi, l’adattamento e la selezione hanno svolto la loro opera. L’idea di Darwin era che questo adattamento andasse nel senso di una «trasformazione», di un passaggio da una specie ad un’altra. Non è nulla di tutto ciò. Tutti i cani hanno lo stesso numero di ossa, posti nello stesso ordine. La grande variabilità della specie non ha nulla a che vedere con la «macroevoluzione», definita come il passaggio da una specie ad un’altra. La grande confusione attuale (volontaria?) consiste nell’attribuzione di tutte le argomentazioni evidenti, derivanti dalle variazioni adattative ereditarie, ad una falsa macroevoluzione (che sarebbe un altro fenomeno, ancora mai osservato). Questa è un’estrapolazione ingiustificata.

In ambito scientifico, un procedimento accettato è l’estrapolazione, per mezzo della quale un’affermazione viene estesa al di là del campo di osservazione. Si ritiene che una regolarità, constatata per un lasso di tempo sufficientemente lungo, continuerà a manifestarsi. La previsione di un’eclissi (estrapolazione verso il futuro) oppure un sondaggio elettorale (estrapolazione di un campione per l’insieme della popolazione), delle estrapolazioni. Tuttavia l’estrapolazione ha senso solo se all’interno di essa si afferma una nozione identica a quella osservata.

In realtà, l’osservazione degli esseri viventi mostra la permanenza delle specie: la variabilità (che è considerevole) resta sempre all’interno della specie. In questo modo le mutazioni provocate nell’arco di decine di anni sulla mosca drosofila o sul colibacillo non hanno mai fatto apparire nulla se non dei drosofili o dei colibacilli. La regola esigerebbe quindi che se ne estrapoli la stabilità della specie in quanto tale. Tuttavia il ragionamento evoluzionista consiste a sostenere che, nel tempo, avverrà il contrario.

Un po’ di umorismo: la parola appartiene all’uomo; essa costituisce pertanto la sua caratteristica principale della quale l’evoluzionismo deve giustificare l’apparizione. Seguendo questa linea di pensiero l’«antenato», l’animale più simile all’uomo, deve essere per forza di cose il pappagallo, l’unico in grado di articolare delle parole (mentre la scimmia è priva di faringe per questo gli esperimenti condotti dagli anni 1930 per cercare di far parlare le scimmie non hanno mai successo). La transizione più credibile tra l’animale e l’uomo dovrebbe quindi passare dal pappagallo, predecessore più vicino all’uomo per quanto riguarda la sua caratteristica fondamentale!

In realtà il pappagallo non parla; pronuncia soltanto dei suoni, ma senza impiegare le zone della corteccia cerebrale proprie del linguaggio, poiché esse non esistono nel suo cervello molto piccolo.

La saggezza, così come la scienza, vorrebbero che venga abbandonata l’idea della macroevoluzione, dato che tutto dimostra che quest’ultima è impossibile!

 

L’errore di Darwin a proposito dei fossili


Risultati immagini per Dominique Tassot

Dominique Tassot

Per la maggior parte della gente, la prova dell’evoluzione si trova nei fossili. Siccome gli animali che vivevano nel passato, e di cui ritroviamo i resti, erano diversi dagli animali attuali, allora significa che c’è stata un’evoluzione! Tuttavia, nella mente di Darwin, i fossili costituivano un’obiezione importante poiché si presentavano in specie ben determinate, facili da descrivere e facili da inserire nella classificazione generale degli esseri viventi. Non si trovavano intermediari che potessero provare un’evoluzione graduale. Darwin scrive nel 1859: (67) « Il numero di varietà intermedie che sarebbero esistite un tempo sulla terra deve essere davvero immenso. Perché quindi le formazioni e gli geologici non sono pieni di questi anelli? Certamente la geologia non rivela una tale catena organica perfettamente graduata; e questa è probabilmente l’obiezione più ovvia e seria che possa essere rivolta alla mia teoria. Ritengo che la spiegazione risieda nell’estrema insufficienza dei documenti geologici.»

Darwin aveva così trovato una soluzione temporanea a questo ostacolo: Scaviamo! Non abbiamo cercato abbastanza! Oggi, dopo cento cinquanta anni che cerchiamo e scaviamo , è notorio che i tanto attesi intermediari sono semplicemente degli «anelli mancanti» (missing links in inglese) e non tentiamo nemmeno più di cercarli.

Risultati immagini per Dominique Tassot

     Gli scavi compiuti dal 1859 sono stati infinitamente più numerosi e fruttuosi rispetto a quelli di cui Darwin era a conoscenza. Pertanto non si può più sostenere che le collezioni fossili non costituiscano un campione rappresentativo della vita preistorica. I dati si oppongono a questo fatto: su 329 famiglie di vertebrati viventi attualmente conosciute, 261 (ovvero il 79%) si trovano allo stato fossile, e se si escludono gli uccelli (i cui fossili sono rarissimi), la percentuale raggiunge l’88% .

Di conseguenza, i fossili non costituiscono la tanto attesa «prova» dell’Evoluzione ed è questo, secondo le parole di Nils Eldredge, il «segreto professionale» dei paleontologi. Il ricercatore americano Steven Stanley si ritiene in grado di concludere che: «i giacimenti fossili conosciuti non forniscono un solo esempio che testimoni il fatto l’evoluzione filetica stia compiendo una transizione morfologica importante e per questo non offrono nessuna prova della validità del modello gradualista.»

Qual è perciò la conclusione? La più semplice sarebbe ritenere che questi «anelli» non siano mai esistiti: ciò che non esiste non lascia tracce! Ma in questo caso bisognerebbe rinunciare all’idea di un’evoluzione graduale, a piccole tappe, che procede in maniera lenta e silenziosa. Tuttavia questo gradualismo è proprio il meccanismo psicologico che a reso credibile la tesi evoluzionista…

Immagine correlata

     Di fronte a questo vicolo cieco, i paleontologi americani Nils Eldredge et Stephen Jay Gould hanno proposto un’«evoluzione a salti» tra le forme stabili. Gli intermediari avrebbero dovuto essere forme effimere che vivono in quantità ridotte in territori limitati, con una probabilità quindi molto bassa di fossilizzarsi. Si tratta della teoria «saltazionista». Ciò nonostante, il grande pubblico continua a credere in un’evoluzione graduale e ritiene che siano esistite molte varianti di esseri intermediari, per esempio tra il mammut e l’elefante o tra la scimmia e l’uomo.

In realtà cosa significa questa assenza degli «anelli mancanti»? Vuol dire che le specie fossili furono altrettanto stabili quanto lo sono le specie conosciute attualmente. Si dice che ci sia una «stasi»: i fossili di una determinata specie sono gli stessi dappertutto, qualsiasi sia il terreno nel quale vengano rinvenuti. Ciò spiega che molti fossili siano ancora «viventi» e immutati, soprattutto il celebre Coelacante, che era stata presentato come l’intermediario tra i pesci e i rettili (possiede una pinna ossea) ma che viene pescato sempre nell’Oceano Indiano e nel Golfo del Messico. Per esempio, vengono rivenuti dei fossili identici di razze, squali, lamprede, ricci di mare in tutti gli strati sedimentari. L’affermazione di un’evoluzione della specie dipende pertanto, come ai tempi di Darwin, da un presupposto filosofico, non da una legittima induzione a partire da fatti osservati. Maurice Caullery, allora titolare della cattedra di evoluzione degli esseri organizzati alla Sorbona, scriveva già nel 1931: «Le recenti ricerche, contrariamente a quanto si potesse immaginare cinquanta anni fa, hanno più che altro rinforzato l’idea della stabilità presente delle forme animali e vegetali nonché hanno rivalutato le loro variazioni o come fenomeni puramente individuali senza alcuna ripercussione sulla stirpe, oppure come una diversificazione limitata e virtualmente contenuta nella tipologia di ciascuna specie.».

I decenni seguenti non hanno attenuato per niente la forza di questa affermazione. Contrariamente quindi all’intuizione di Darwin, gli esseri viventi non sono semplici individui intermedi in transito tra forme specifiche in via di estinzione e una forma futura ancora da determinare; i fossili, così come gli esseri viventi contemporanei, non lasciano intravedere nulla di tutto ciò! La specie è una realtà assolutamente obiettiva, scientificamente identificabile grazie all’anatomia e alla genetica, tanto che la semplice possibilità teorica di una eventuale evoluzione, ossia il passaggio di una specie ad un’altra, deve essere ancora dimostrata, come hanno da poco riconosciuto nella rivista «Nature» Eörs Szathmary et John Maynard Smith.

Dr. Bijan Nemati: The Pale Blue Dot Revisited: Appreciating Our Uncommon Place in the Universe.


Risultati immagini per bijan nemati

Il video dell’intervento: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do56czivBuQ

Professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and collaborator at NASA

Dr. Bijan Nemati, Physicst, 3rd International Conference on the Origin of Life and the Universe, April 28th, 2018-istanbul

 BIJAN NEMATI

The Pale Blue Dot Revisited:
Appreciating Our Uncommon Place in the Universe

Bijan Nemati

We live in an era where the dominant scientific worldview is based on materialism, a metaphysics that holds aspects of the physical world, such as matter and energy, as self-existent. From the physical universe and its laws, this view claims, we can explain everything we see, everything we experience. The material universe is sufficient to explain the nature of all that exists, and if that is true, in the words of the late Stephen Hawking, “science can explain the universe without the need for a creator.” This or some variation of this view is very common in our day, particularly in academic circles.

Yet, this view leaves many questions unanswered. For example, what is the nature of consciousness? What is the origin of morality? Does it even exist? What about love, or mercy? Are these illusions? Are they simply electrochemical impulses? Did they simply arise as encoded reactionary patterns our brains through evolution? If so, are moral principles simply reducible to mathematics and statistics? And finally, given these questions, can a proponent of materialism live their life consistently with their worldview?

While these profound questions remain unanswered, materialists use ancillary arguments in support of their view. One such argument, that I want to examine here, is the appeal to mediocrity. To explain what I mean consider, the story of the pale blue dot:

In his book, the Pale Blue Dot, the late astronomer Carl Sagan recounts an event that occurred in the course of NASA’s Voyager 1 mission. In 1990, 12 years after the launch of Voyager 1, the spacecraft had left the outer planets of the solar system, and on February 14, it was commanded to turn around and take a family portrait of the planets in the solar system it was forever leaving behind. When the images were transmitted back, NASA engineers were having difficulty finding the Earth. Eventually they found it, as a pale blue dot, near a shaft of light that was entering the camera, reflecting from some point on the spacecraft. About this, Sagan, had this to say:

“Because of the reflection of sunlight . . . the Earth seems to be sitting in a beam of light, as if there were some special significance to this small world. But it’s just an accident of geometry and optics. . . Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light . . . Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark …” – Carl Sagan

As you can sense here, this is actually not a scientific statement, but a philosophical, even theological one. But the claim is that this is supported by all the science that we have learned over last few hundred years. In this talk I would like to examine the assertions of the Copernican principle in light of modern science, and particularly, my field, which is the study of extra-solar planets (“exoplanets”).

Brief History

Before we discuss exoplanets, let’s take a brief historical look. It was Aristotle who 2400 years ago argued for a geocentric model of the Universe. He envisaged concentric crystalline spheres in which the heavenly bodies resided. Most nearby where the moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, then Jupiter and Saturn. Further out where the firmament, the stars, and these were all set into motion by a prime mover. Aristotle said reason and common experience confirmed this view, and no one doubted it.

But there were problems with this simple view. One was the retrograde motion of the planets. For example, if you look at Mars every two years when comes near “opposition” (the point on the sky opposite to the direction of the sun at that time) and watch its location relative to the background stars you will notice a retrograde motion: over the course of a few months, you see the planet moving one direction then backwards, then again the same direction relative to the stars. This was difficult to explain in the basic geocentric model of Aristotle.

Five hundred years after Aristotle, Ptolemy, in his great work called Almagest, provided an explanation. He agreed with Aristotle that the perfect, heavenly bodies must have perfect motion, and hence be traveling in perfect circles, but the planets are actually traveling on smaller circles called epicycles, and the epicycles are centered on deferents, which in turn are centered on the earth. In this way the planets can have retrograde motion. By setting the diameters and rotation rates just right, Ptolemy was able to make very accurate predictions of the locations of the planets, so good in fact, that for the next 14 centuries there was no rival to this picture.

It was not until the 16th century that a serious alternative was proposed, and here it was Nicolaus Copernicus, who in his own magnificent work, called “On the Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies” detailed a much more elegant system: the sun-centered (or “heliocentric”) system. The earth, he suggested, was not at the center of the universe, and the heavenly bodies do not all revolve around a central point. With these and a few other axioms, he was able to explain the same observations more elegantly and simply.

Finally, in the 20th century it was the astronomer Harlow Shapley of Harvard University who discovered that the sun is not at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. He did this by measuring the locations of globular clusters on the sky, including their distances. Globular clusters are mini-galaxies with hundreds of thousands of stars, and many of these are orbiting our massive galaxy, the Milky Way. Shapley noticed that they are orbiting an area of the galaxy that is many thousands of light years from where we are. Since the center of the galaxy is the most massive point, these must be orbiting the center. So, Shapley famously concluded: “The solar system is off center, and consequently man is too…”

So, Copernicus showed us that the Earth is not at the center of the solar system, but the Sun is, and Shapley showed us that the Sun is not at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and later Edwin Hubble discovered that the Milky Way is only one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. Pointing to these observations, the so-called “Copernican” principle seems to show us that man does not hold a central position in the universe, and by extension, it must also be true that we are not here for a purpose.

The claim seems to be well supported, when expressed as I just did. But the claim gets some of the history wrong (for example neither Copernicus nor Galileo would consider the Earth’s removal from the center of the universe as a demotion!) but also, the claim completely missed much of what we have learned in the last century about habitable planets. These are planets where life could at least survive if placed there.

Habitable Planets

What does one need for a habitable planet?

The first requirement of a terrestrial planet is already limiting, since much of the matter in the universe consists of Hydrogen and Helium. It takes complex processes in the stars to generate the heavy elements that make up a planet that is rocky like the earth. Beyond being rocky, however, it must also have water. Water is a unique liquid with its high latent heat, its anomalous thermal expansion (higher density in liquid form than solid form), and many other life-beneficial properties. Carbon chemistry is most active in the same range of temperatures where water is a liquid. Carbon itself is a unique element in its ability to support large molecules with metastable bonds. These are minimum conditions.

There is also the location of the planet. The Circumstellar Habitable Zone (CHZ) is defined that region around a star where water can be liquid at some part of a rocky planet situated there. Since the surface heat of a planet is from the sun light it absorbs, around a cold star the habitable zone is close in, while around a hot star, it has to be further out. If a planet is located closer to its host star than the inner edge of the HZ, a runaway greenhouse effect will raise the temperatures, causing the water to evaporate into the atmosphere, and be carried away by the solar wind, making the planet dehydrated. At the other extreme of the HZ, things get so cold that the water precipitates as ice and snow, which make the planet absorb less of the star light and become colder still. This leads to an uninhabitable “snowball” planet. In our solar system, only the Earth is inside the HZ. So, the planet has to be the right distance away from its host star.

As for the star, are all the stars equally suitable? It turns out that the answer is no! Many astronomy textbooks refer to our Sun as an “average” star. This is true in a limited sense: there are stars more hot, bright, and massive than the sun and there are stars less so than the sun. But the sun is actually among 10% most massive stars in our galaxy. But stars more massive than the Sun are too active and unstable in their energy output and are therefore not suitable for habitability. Stars less massive than the Sun, on the other hand, are also cooler, requiring the habitable zone to be closer in. But when a planet gets that close to the star, it suffers from an effect called tidal locking: the spin of the planet becomes equal in duration with its orbital period: as a result, one side of the planet becomes permanently “day” and the opposite side becomes permanently “night.” The day side becomes hot and the moisture is transported to the night side, where it snows down and stays permanently frozen. Tidally locked planets are poor choices for life. Cool stars also have more frequent life-threatening events called coronal mass ejections. In the end, only about 4% are main sequence G stars like our Sun.

What about the location of the star within the galaxy? To get heavy elements, from which a rocky planet can form, you have to be closer to the center of the galaxy. On the other hand, if you get too close, life threatening events like super-novae become more frequent. A supernova can sterilize all life within many light years around it. These are not only more frequent near the center but also within the spiral arms. So, the star, to stay safe, needs to be at the right radius from the center of the galaxy. Not too far and not too close, and also not within a spiral arm.

What about the galaxy? Here too, we find ourselves in a privileged place. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is among the 3% most massive galaxies in the nearby universe. Because it was so massive, it was able to accumulate heavy elements more quickly, and planet formation started earlier around the stars in the Milky Way. Almost two-thirds of the age of the universe until now had passed before the earth could be formed.

There are in fact many more factors that we could discuss. Very briefly, we need a planet with a magnetosphere. Our magnetosphere protects us from cosmic rays and occasional solar bursts that would otherwise dehydrate our atmosphere. We need a large moon. The Earth’s moon is unusually large relative to its own size. Our massive moon stabilizes the tilt of the Earth, leading to a stable climate. To support large living beings like animals and humans, a planet needs to have high enough oxygen content, but then it must also have a neutral gas as well, to avoid devastating fires. Our oxygen-nitrogen dominated atmosphere is the perfect balance of these requirements. Finally, even the Earth’s planetary neighbors play important roles. Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has 300 times the mass of the Earth. It has a near-circular orbit five times farther from the sun as the Earth. This combination of massiveness and large circular orbits makes Jupiter a benevolent agent in the solar system, absorbing to itself, like a giant vacuum-cleaner, comets and asteroids that potentially could threaten life on earth: many of these eventually crash into Jupiter or Saturn.

We now move from theory to experiment: over the last two decades many discoveries of exoplanets have been made. What have we learned?

First, very briefly, there are a handful of techniques for detecting planets. In the first, very important technique, called Radial Velocity, the planet is not detected directly, but the wobble of the star in reaction to the pull of the planet is detected, from the red and blue shifts of the star’s spectrum. Another highly successful technique, called Transit, looks for the very small drop in the light from a star when a planet transits, or comes in front of, the star from our point of view. A third one that I will mention is to image the planetary system directly. It is direct detection but is very challenging. This is what I am working on currently.

From the radial velocity exoplanet discoveries, we have learned one very important lesson: that Jupiters are very uncommon. Most gas-giant planets (the type of planet for Jupiter and Saturn) have elliptical, rather than circular orbits. Over time, the elliptical orbit means they migrate towards the star, eventually settling into a very close orbit around the star: these are called “hot Jupiters”. Along the way, they disrupt and eject the other planets.

The transit technique has offered us a picture of thousands of other planetary systems. But here too, the results show that in the great majority of the planets discovered are closer to their host star than our innermost planet – Mercury. Our solar system is very unusual.

So, we see that a very large number of conditions are necessary for a life-hospitable planet, and when we look at the universe we see that the usual condition is that they are not all present at the same time. In fact, one can make a statistical estimate of the expected rate, following the famous approach of Francis Drake. In the 1960’s, using a very simple calculation, he estimated the number of planets in the Milky Way that might host advanced life, such that we might receive a radio signal from those planets. Starting from the fact that there are about a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way, and considering a few conditions, his estimated that there should be on the order of a million other planetary systems in our galaxy that could send us a signal.

But half a century later, we know there are many more factors are required than he considered. And since the probability that they all are present for a planet is proportional to the product of their individual probabilities, a simple calculation shows that we should not expect to see a single Earth in a thousand Milky Way-sized galaxies. The Earth is very rare. This goes directly against the so-called Copernican principle.

Beyond Rare: A privileged Planet

But, besides the evidence for Earth’s rarity, there is also evidence for design. In their book called the Privileged Planet, astronomer Guillermo Gonzales and philosopher Jay Richards point out how we can see design in a very remarkable feature of the universe:

The requirements for habitability overall coincide with the requirements for discovery.

This is a very surprising observation!

The same conditions that make a planet habitable are altogether what we would need for that habitable planet to be a place where intelligent beings could study and learn about the universe.

A beautiful example of this are perfect eclipses. We saw previously that our moon, being anomalously large, provides us with an important condition for habitability: it stabilizes the tilt of the Earth’s rotation axis and causes the Earth to have moderate climates. The moon’s size has another amazing feature: its diameter on the sky, as seen from the Earth, exactly matches the diameter of the Sun. It is 400 times smaller than the sun but also 400 times closer to us. What this enables us to have is perfect solar eclipses. Had the moon been farther, it would not adequately cover the sun during the eclipse. Any closer, and it would cover too much. It is at the perfect distance to reveal the outer atmosphere of the sun. In our solar system, the only place you can see a perfect eclipse is from the surface of the Earth.

Historically, it was from observing the spectrum of the atmosphere of the sun during eclipse that astronomers first discovered that the sun is a hot ball of gas. It also enabled them to know what elements are present in the sun. This in turn opened the door for studying the other stars.

It was also using an eclipse that Einstein’s theory of gravity (general relativity) was put to its most famous test. The sun’s mass bends light from distant stars, but the bending is so small that only the stars seen very near the sun can show an effect. A perfect eclipse in 1919 made this possible.

Many of the other factors also facilitate discovery. Because we are not at the center of the galaxy, our night sky is dark, making astronomy possible. We also have an oxygen-nitrogen, clear atmosphere, which is also necessary. The planet Venus, for example, has a carbon-dioxide, opaque atmosphere. Besides being over 400 degrees Celsius, it is also not a good platform for observing the universe.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

The list of interconnected requirements for habitability and discovery is long. But the picture should by now be clear.

There is abundant, solid evidence that the work is designed, and we can infer as well that God wants us to study this world and see its design and realize the glory of its creator.

So, far from being a mere blue dot, our planet was not only made for supporting life, but it was also made to support knowing about the universe, and extending from that observation, to know, and be amazed by, its Creator.

Dr. Fazale (Fuz) Rana, Biochemist, USA, 3rd International Conference


Risultati immagini per fazale rana

https://en.a9.com.tr/Dr-Fazale-Fuz-Rana-Biochemist-USA-3rd-International-Conference-on-the-Origin-of-273672

FAZALE RANA

The Human Genome

ENCODED by Design

Greetings!

I am honored to be invited to take part in this year’s 3rd International Conference on the Origin of Life. I had the privilege of speaking at the first two conferences. And, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s conference. Thank you to the Technics and Science Research Foundation for the vision to sponsor and host such an important event.

It’s exciting to be part of a project in which one of the goals is to show the world how science can be used to build a bridge of friendship between Christians and Muslims. Based on our shared belief in a transcendent Creator, we can collaborate to demonstrate to people of all worldviews how scientific advance 1) points to the existence of God; and 2) undermines the evolutionary paradigm—a paradigm often used to justify atheism.

As a Christian and a scientist, I am convinced that nature provides evidence for God’s handiwork. As is written in the Old Testament book of Job:

7“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?”

13 “To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.

 

Job 12:7-9, 13

 

And yet, when presented with compelling evidence for design that comes from biology, so many skeptics reject the evidence—and with this rejection, they reject belief in God.

Why?

They justify their skepticism by pointing to so-called flawed designs in nature—designs that would be unworthy of a Creator.

As the late, evolutionary biologist and atheist Stephen Jay Gould wrote in his famous essay, “The Panda’s Thumb”

“Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible Creator would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.”

And, yet in my experience, as we learn more about the so-called “odd arrangements and funny solutions” inevitably, what we thought was a flawed design turns out to be an elegant, sophisticated design—one that reflects the Creator’s glory.

The latest scientific insights into the human genome beautifully illustrate this point.

As a biochemist and someone who has spent most of my life studying biology, I rank the sequencing of the human genome as the most significant scientific accomplishment of all time all-time.

Why?

Because the human genome sequence is the genetic blueprint for human beings.  From our genetic blueprint, we can gain fundamentally important information about the nature of humanity—at least, in a biological sense.

The draft sequence of the human genome was reported in June 2000. There is a famous picture showing then President Bill Clinton standing next to two gentlemen and bitter scientific rivals: Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project funded in part by NIH; and Craig Venter, the head of Celera Genomics, a private company that was looking to sequence and commercialize the human genome.

The Human Genome Project funded by NIH was initiated fifteen years earlier, spending 3.2 billion dollars to sequence the human genome. Celera was in a race with the Human Genome Project, hoping to complete the sequence before the publically funded project. If they could, they planned on monetizing the sequence data.

As it turns out, Collins and Venter decided to call a truce, agreeing to walk arm-in-arm across the finish line. In the process, they shared data with one another facilitating the completion of the draft sequence.

During the press conference President Clinton made these now-famous remarks:

“Today, we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift. With this profound new knowledge, humankind is on the verge of gaining immense, new power to heal. Genome science will have a real impact on all our lives—and even more, on the lives of our children. It will revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases.”

Truly, President Clinton appreciated the significance of having the sequence for the human genome.  He went so far as to describe the human genome sequence as the language God used to create human life.

Yet, the initial analysis of the human genome sequence indicated to many scientists that the human genome was anything BUT the product of Creator’s handiwork. Instead of being the language God used to create human life, it appeared to many scientists that the human genome was cobbled together over hundreds of millions of years by evolutionary processes, with much of the human genome riddled with molecular fossils—vestiges of an evolutionary history.

Many scientists would argue that the human genome stands as the most powerful evidence for human evolution, while, at the same time, indicating that God had nothing to do, whatsoever, with humanity’s origin.

In the next few minutes, I will explain why scientists reached these conclusions.

Then I’m going to describe some recent insights into the structure and function of the human genome that is radically changing our perspective on the human genetic blueprint in a way that reflects the Creator’s handiwork.

Let’s begin with a little background information, beginning with the structure of DNA.

This biomolecule consists of chain-like molecules known as polynucleotides. Two polynucleotide chains align in an antiparallel fashion to form a DNA molecule. The two strands are arranged parallel to one another with the starting point of one strand (the 5′ end) in the polynucleotide duplex located next to the ending point of the other strand (the 3′ end) and vice versa. The paired polynucleotide chains resemble a ladder with the side groups extending from the backbone interacting with each other to form rungs. The coupled polynucleotide chains twist around each other forming the well-known DNA double helix.

The cell’s machinery forms polynucleotide chains by linking together four different subunit molecules called nucleotides. The four nucleotides used to build DNA chains are adenosine, guanosine, cytidine, and thymidine—famously abbreviated A, G, C, and T, respectively.

The human genome consists of 3.2 billion genetic letters that are distributed among 24 discrete DNA molecules. These molecules interact with proteins to form complexes called chromosomes. These structures become visible in the cell nucleus as the cell divides. Each chromosome consists of a single DNA molecule that wraps around a series of globular protein complexes. These wrapped complexes repeat to form a supramolecular structure resembling a string of beads. Biochemists refer to the “beads” as nucleosomes.

The chain of nucleosomes further coil to form a structure called a solenoid. The solenoid condenses to form higher order structures that constitute the chromosome. Between cell division events, the chromosome exists in an extended diffuse form that is not detectable. Prior to and during cell division, the chromosome condenses to form its readily recognizable compact structures.

All the genetic material (DNA) in the cell’s nucleus is distributed among numerous chromosomes. The number of chromosomes in its cells is a characteristic feature of each species. For example, in the nucleus of each cell, chimpanzees possess 48 chromosomes and humans, 46.

The human genome is comprised of 22 autosomes, numbered 1 to 22 based on size, with chromosome 1 being the longest and chromosome 22 being the shortest. There are also two sex chromosomes, dubbed the X and Y chromosomes.

Every cell in the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes, one set comes from the mother, one from the father. The set is made up of 22 autosomes and 1 sex chromosome, either X or Y.

One of the surprises about the human genome came shortly after the rough draft sequence was produced. The initial analysis indicated only 20,000 genes exist in the human genome. This was a far cry from the predicted number: 100,000 genes, at minimum.

This meant that less than 2 percent of the human genome coded for proteins—the workhorse molecules of the cell. Evolutionary biologists interpreted the rest of the human genome as junk DNA.

Evolutionary biologists argue that most of the human genome looks like it was derived from retroviral infections. Also, included in the human genome are nonfunctional genes, dubbed pseudogenes, along with other types of evolutionary debris. At first glance, the human genome looks like a vast wasteland of junk.

Of course, this begs the question: Why would a Creator make the human genome with so much useless DNA?

In Psalm 8 of the Old Testament, David asks the question:

What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

David answers his own question by remembering the Genesis 1 and 2 creation accounts for humanity’s origin. David replies:

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:

 

Given David’s words, a human genome littered with garbage is not what one would expect if human beings are the crown of creation. But, it is exactly what one would predict, if evolution cobbled together the human genome.

 

For evolutionary biologists, a high level of junk DNA in the human genome (and the genomes of other creatures) provides resolution to the C-Value paradox, adding to the case for evolution.

 

The C-Value paradox traces its origins back to the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. At that time, biochemists developed techniques to quantify the amount of DNA found in individual cells. They used these techniques to measure the amount of DNA in the different cell types comprising an organism. For example, human beings have approximately 210 different cell types that make up our bodies. Biochemists were interested in the amount of DNA in each of these cell types. For every organism studied, biochemists found that all the cells in their body contained the same amount of DNA. They dubbed this value as the C-value, with C standing for ‘constant.’ The C-value refers to the constant amount of DNA found in each of an organism’s cells.

 

At that time, biochemists thought that the amount of DNA should correspond to the complexity of the organism. More complex organisms should have more DNA, than less complex organisms. When biochemists plotted C-values for different organisms, they failed to discover any relationship between complexity and quantity of DNA in the organism’s cells.

 

The discovery of junk DNA resolved the C-value paradox. Accordingly, most of an organism’s genome consisted of junk DNA, which accumulated through random events. As a result, the C-value varied from organism to organism, with no rhyme or reason. In other words, the size of an organism’s genome has no relationship to complexity. It is just the vestiges of an unguided, evolutionary history.

 

This of course begs the question: Why would an all-powerful, all-knowing God create genomes with more junk than functional DNA?

 

An even more problematic question: Why would organisms that naturally group together possess identical (or nearly identical) junk DNA sequences at corresponding locations in their genomes?

 

On the surface, the explanation that makes most sense is an evolutionary one; the junk DNA sequences arose in the shared evolutionary ancestor and persisted in the genomes as the different evolutionary lineages diverged from the common ancestor. In other words, junk DNA sequences in our genome and the genomes of other organisms reflects our evolutionary history and can be used to map evolutionary relationships.

 

Yet, over the course of the past decade, molecular biologists and geneticists have made discoveries that force us to re-think the evolutionary view of the human genome. Bit by bit researchers have discovered that most of the classes of junk DNA have function.

 

Of course, if junk DNA is functional, it undermines the case for evolution. One could argue that the shared junk DNA sequences in corresponding locations in genomes reflects common design, not common descent.

 

The case for the design of the human genome became stronger virtually overnight, thanks to the ENCODE project. This project was initiated shortly after the human genome was sequenced. It became immediately apparent that simply having the DNA sequence for the human genome was not enough. There had to be some means to interpret the sequence data. Nobody knew how to read the 3.2 billion genetic letters, comprising our genome. We knew how to fish out gene sequences from the human genome. But, nobody knew what the rest of the genome sequences meant, if anything, at all.

 

Scientists needed a Rosetta stone for the human genome.

 

Hence, the ENCODE project was birthed. Its goal: To identify all the functional elements in the human genome. ENCODE stands for the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements.

 

This project began in the early 2000’s. The pilot phase cost 55 million dollars—an expense pilot study.  The research consortium attempted to identify all the functional elements in 1 percent of the human genome. Their success with phase I, lead to phase II. This phase cost 130 million dollars and was completed in September of 2012. Phase III is currently under way. The total cost of the ENCODE project will be about 300 million dollars—a bargain, because to sequence the human genome cost 3.2 billion dollars. We will be able to interpret the human genome for a mere tenth of the cost of sequencing our genetic blueprint.

 

The ENCODE project was ‘Big science’ coming to biology.  The ENCODE consortium for phase II consisted of:

 

440 Scientists

32 Research Groups

Performed 1650 Experiments

Analyzed 147 cell types

Produced 15 X 1012 bytes of data

Required 300 years of computer time to analyze

 

 

The ENCODE consortium produced:

 

Nearly 40 publications

Nature

Science

Cell

Genome Research

Genome Biology

Journal of Biological Chemistry

 

Phase III of the ENCODE project will survey the remaining 63 cell types for functional DNA and look for functional DNA at different stages of the cell cycle.

 

This data will go a long way towards helping us gain a fundamental understanding about human biology and human uniqueness.

 

We will be able to develop a better understanding of the genetic basis of diseases and develop diagnostic tools and improved treatments for many of these disorders.

 

The insights coming from ENCODE also impacts the creation/evolution controversy.

 

These results:

 

Eliminates best argument for evolution

Eliminates biggest challenge to biochemical design

 

 

What did ENCODE find that is so important to the case for a Creator?

 

These researchers performed six assays that measured

 

Transcription

Binding of transcription factors

Histone binding

Modified histone binding

Methylation

3-D interactions within the genome

 

All these processes play a key role in gene expression.

 

It is one thing to know what genes are present in the genome. It is another to know how and when those genes are used. We can think of genes within the genome like words in a dictionary. To write a novel, one needs to use the words in the dictionary in a variety of combinations, often using words more than one time. Each novel uses words from the dictionary in different ways to produce pieces of literature that communicate different meanings.

 

The set of genes found in the genome are like the words in the dictionary. These genes can be used to build each cell in the human body, with the cells functioning like novels. The genes are used or expressed differently from cell to cell, accounting for their unique features.

 

Gene expression not only differs from cell to cell, it also changes throughout the cell cycle and during growth and development. Each stage of the cell cycle, each stage of development represents a different novel that needs to be written.

 

It appears as if most of the DNA sequences found in the human genome are regulating gene expression needed to build, and then, maintain the human organism. Phase II of the ENCODE project reported that 80 percent of the human genome displays biochemical activity that likely reflects biochemical function.

 

The ENCODE scientists expect that as phase III comes to fruition, 80 percent will become 100 percent.

 

Ed Yong wrote in an article for Discover magazine:

 

And what’s in the remaining 20 percent? Possibly not junk either, according to Ewan Birney… “It’s likely that 80 percent will go to 100 percent,” says Birney.

 

Ewan Birney serves as the head of the ENCODE consortium.

 

The human genome doesn’t appear to be a wasteland of junk. It appears to be functional. Most of the DNA sequences in the human genome play a role in making us human beings. This insight stands as a radical revision of our view of the human genome. It is not a wasteland of junk, but an elegant biochemical system that is far more complex than we initially imagined.

 

How have biologists responded to the ENCODE results?

 

Within hours of the publication of the phase II results evolutionary biologists condemned the ENCODE project, citing several technical issues with the way the study was designed and the way the results were interpreted.

 

These technical complaints continue today, igniting the junk DNA wars between evolutionary biologists and genomics scientists. Evolutionary biologists argue that if the results of the ENCODE project are correct, then cornerstone ideas in evolutionary theory—such as the C-Value paradox— can’t be correct. On the other hand, genomics scientists see value in the ENCODE results, using them to understand the genetic basis for disease.

 

Evolutionary biologists have roundly criticized ENCODE scientists, claiming them to be incompetent and decrying the design of the ENCODE assays. Evolutionary biologists claim that if ENCODE is correct, then key aspects of the evolutionary paradigm are in trouble.

 

These critics are doing science, ‘backwards.’ Instead of data used to evaluate a theory, the theory is used to evaluate the data.

 

The character of these objections aren’t lost on objective members of the scientific community who have suggested the real motivation behind the criticisms of the ENCODE project are philosophical—even theological—in nature.

 

For example, molecular biologists John Mattick and Marcel Dinger write in an article published in the scientific journal HUGO Journal:

 

“There may also be another factor motivating the Graur et al. and related articles (van Bakel et al. 2010; Scanlan 2012), which is suggested by the sources and selection of quotations used at the beginning of the article, as well as in the use of the phrase ‘evolution-free gospel’ in its title (Graur et al. 2013): the argument of a largely non-functional genome is invoked by some evolutionary theorists in the debate against the proposition of intelligent design of life on earth, particularly with respect to the origin of humanity. In essence, the argument posits that the presence of non-protein-coding or so-called ‘junk DNA’ that comprises >90% of the human genome is evidence for the accumulation of evolutionary debris by blind Darwinian evolution, and argues against intelligent design, as an intelligent designer would presumably not fill the human genetic instruction set with meaningless information (Dawkins 1986; Collins 2006). This argument is threatened in the face of growing functional indices of noncoding regions of the genome, with the latter reciprocally used in support of the notion of intelligent design and to challenge the conception that natural selection accounts for the existence of complex organisms (Behe 2003; Wells 2011).”

 

John Mattick who wrote these words is not friendly to creation or intelligent design.

 

Our understanding of genomes is in its infancy. Forced by their commitment to the evolutionary paradigm, many biologists see genomes as the cobbled-together product of an unguided evolutionary history. But, the more we learn about the structure and function of genomes, the more elegant and sophisticated they appear to be—and the more reasons to think that genomes are the handiwork of our Creator.

 

I would like to conclude with the words of Eric Green, the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute:

 

“During the early debates about the Human Genome Project, researchers had predicted that only a few percent of the human genome sequence encoded proteins, the workhorses of the cell, and the rest was junk. We now know that this conclusion was wrong. ENCODE has revealed that most of the human genome is involved in the complex molecular choreography required for converting genetic information into living cells and tissues.”

 

In light of the data coming from the ENCODE project, as a Christian I am justified in viewing the human genome, and hence, human beings as the product of a Creator’s handiwork.

 

In Psalm 139, David sings a song of praise to the Creator, summarizing the latest insights from the ENCODE project well, when he declares:

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.