This is the script for my video response to AronRa’s “8th foundational falsehood of creationism” video on youtube.
The video is here, and this is the script.
Ian Juby replies to “8th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism” by AronRa:
Hello everyone, sorry about the paucity of videos – been on the road for several months, so obviously production comes to a grinding halt. I’m presently working on three rants -two of which are going to require an enormous amount of work, plus my “Persuaded by the evidence” movie, plus I’m involved in a holywood production of a movie on Noah’s Flood, not to mention trying to get my portable museum built on the side. It’s been rather intense.
I recently was given a link to a youtube video by AronRa entitled “The 8th foundational falsehood of Creationism: Mutations are rare, harmful decreases in genetic information.”
Now until a couple of weeks ago, I’d never even heard of AronRa, and suddenly had a rash of people handing me his videos. I will say this one was well presented, I especially liked the fact that he put the script on line, so kudos to him for that – I will, in fact, do the same with this video; I will post the transcript to my blog, which will also contain hyperlinks to the references I provide here. This is the address for the blog entry:
Part 1: crash course in genetics
I’m afraid though, AronRa’s video did not live up to his claims, and in fact was full of flagrant errors and blunders, from beginning to end, and I feel compelled to produce this video in response.
To explain to the layman first though, your DNA holds the genetic code, or program, which is the blueprints or instructions on how to build you and every single cell and part in your body. Changes to this DNA – be they programmed or accidental (like radiation damage for example), is referred to as a “mutation.”
The first major error AronRa made is in the title of the video and in his first statements in the video: “Mutations are rare” and “Creationists insist that mutations are rare”
Says who? I certainly do not claim they are rare, and every creationary geneticist that I know of emphasizes the great number of mutations that happen in our short lifetimes, and even the great number of mutations passed on generation to generation! In fact, that was the whole point of my CrEvo Rant #78: Genetic entropy – a point with which I will close out this video because AronRa inadvertantly brought it up, and skirted around the issue. This was the whole point of geneticist Dr. Jonathan Sanford’s book “Genetic entropy and the mystery of the genome.” The high frequency of mutations was the subject of many of the biology papers at the last International Conference on Creationism.
So, his reasons aside, let’s cut to the chase: the title and entire first part of AronRa’s video is in flagrant, gross error! It is completely untrue! We creationists do not claim mutations are rare, the exact opposite is true – we claim there are many, many mutations – in fact, we would say there are even more mutations than AronRa claimed in his video.
He then goes on to quote an apparently muslim creationist:
“All mutations that take place in humans result in mental or in physical deformities such as albinism, mongolism, dwarfism, or diseases such as cancer.”
Actually, she also forgot another result of mutations: Uhh…DEATH! (I hate it when that happens)
However, I have to agree with AronRa, the way this statement was made is not quite correct; the majority of mutations are either neutral, or near-neutral. But as you’ll see in the closing section of this video, regarding genetic entropy, the descriptions “neutral” or “near-neutral” is actually a misnomer: There is no such thing as a neutral or near-neutral mutation – you’ll see why shortly.
However, it is correct to state that “beneficial mutations,” if there is such a thing, are extremely rare, if not non-existent. Now – just how does one define a “beneficial mutation?” AronRa provides a string of alleged examples of “beneficial mutations” which provide an excellent example of what I’m talking about when I say that a claim of “benefit” is highly subjective at best.
Part 2: alleged examples of “beneficial mutations”
Let’s look at AronRa’s specific examples, and apply what we can learn from these to the creation/evolution debate:
#1) Italians have cholesterol resistance
AronRa claims that a mutation in the kinfolk in the village of Limone Sul Garda in Italy have a mutation which gives them better resistence to cholesterol buildup in their arteries, and thus the family has no history of heart attacks, despite their high-risk dietary habits. He claims this mutation started from a single person living in the 1700’s.
The study he’s referring to was an impressive study – the researchers sampled the entire town! Here’s the original report, read it for yourself, conveniently, the whole article is online for free!
First of all, his claims of “benefit” are a little *ahem* overstated to say the least. The only “benefit” is for those participating in fatty, unhealthy diets! You have to do some serious hoop-jumping to claim this is a benefit!
Secondly, the mutation was heterozygous. What does that mean? Let me give the laypeople a quick crash-course in basic genetics here, some of which will be useful in just a moment.
Your DNA is stored in Chromosomes, and usually your cells have two copies of the chromosome; one from your mother, and one from your father. One pair of those chromosomes determines your gender: if you have two X chromosomes makes you female, one X and one Y chromosome makes you male. If the two copies of a chromosome have the exact same gene, it’s called homozygous – homo for “same.” However, if one of those gene copies has a change – a mutation, it’s different than the other chromosomal copy, and it is described as heterozygous; hetero meaning “different.”
So in the case of the Italian village, the mutants (people with a genetic mutation) had the mutation on only one of their chromosomes. No one was found homozygous. If such a person was found, they would probably have nasty effects resulting from the mutation, probably similar to Tangier’s disease, fish-eye disease, etc…
Thirdly, this mutation was a loss of information in the DNA. This is an important point I will make repeatedly throughout this video: This mutation, or change, damaged the gene known as AI. The damaged gene is referred to as AIm – the little m being for “mutated”
Lastly: If one actually reads the article – which apparently AronRa did not, you will find that the authors even specifically stated, in the article, that the mutation was not the cause of the health benefit:
“expression of AIm is variable, as supported by the large spread of the [cholesterol count] data, as well as of other associated biochemical abnormalities.”
Translation: even though not everybody in the town had the mutated gene, the whole town had lower cholesterol count, and that count still varied a lot, even amongst the people who DID have the mutation! So this shows there was no connection between AIm and lower cholesterol! In fact, in the conclusions of the article it even clearly states:
“Limone sul Garda proved to be a village of unusually low cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. These observations should not be attributed to the presence of an apparently protective gene, in view of the relatively low percentage of carriers.”
Translation: the lower cholesterol count is not caused by the mutation, as few people had the mutation, but the whole town had low cholesterol levels. This is in direct contradiction to AronRa’s claim.
#2) Glycophorin A somatic cell mutation
So then AronRa provides another alleged example of a beneficial mutation: He claimed that a mutation to the Glycophorin A somatic cell allowed Tibetans to live at high altitudes without experiencing altitude sickness.
I searched high and low for a reference for this claim.
I wrote to AronRa on youtube, asking for a reference for his claim, and never got a reply. Now – that’s not a criticism, I know how crazy it can be on youtube with emails and comments and stuff – I’m just getting back on youtube for the first time in five months myself. I only mention this because I want the viewers to know that I did make an effort to get the reference from AronRa because I couldn’t find one anywhere.
Fortunately, AronRa has posted these claims allll over the internet on forums and stuff. Never providing references though. Finally, I found one old rant of his from a long time ago, and he referenced an article on line – but the webpage he was pointing to was no longer there! Using the wayback machine, I finally got a copy of the web page, which was actually a bibliography. To my shock, he was referring to the Jensen article!
Apparently, AronRa, you didn’t read the article – in fact, it appears you didn’t even read the abstract. Here’s the abstract, let’s read it together, shall we?
“Since cosmic radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere surrounding the Earth, people who live at high altitude receive significantly larger amounts of cosmic radiation exposure than do those who live at low altitude. The glycophorin A-based somatic mutation assay was performed on 36 blood samples from two populations of Tibet inhabitants to determine whether residents at high altitude (4,300 m) accumulate more somatic mutations than do those who live at low altitude (1,500-1,900 m). These two populations differ in estimated cumulative lifetime cosmic radiation dose, with high altitude residents having received a mean of 111 mSv while low altitude residents received a mean of 27 mSv. Results showed no significant difference in peripheral blood variant erythrocyte frequency between these two populations and no difference from results of a previous study on Finnish workers who live at very low altitude (<500 m).”
(“Glycophorin A somatic cell mutation frequencies in residents of Tibet at high altitudes”,
Jensen, et al, Health Physics, October 1997; 73(4):663-7)
The article did not claim glycophorin A was a beneficial mutation, it didn’t even claim that these people had the mutation! In fact the whole point of the article was that these people did not have the mutation! The article was a study in radiation damage in people living at high altitudes!
So everything AronRa said was utterly bogus. This was gross error, and what amazes me here is not that a mistake was made – we all make them, but rather that no one caught this mistake!
Imagine the comments I would get if I made such blunder! I can already the accusations of “liar” “snake oil salesman” and a whole raft of other insults you guys would hurl at me if I made such a mistake. Then you guys hand me AronRa’s video, which I’m sorry – contains gross errors. It makes it very difficult for me to respond in kindness. But I will be gracious to AronRa, and simply assume he made a mistake – and here’s why that’s a problem: I had a 13 year old young man hand me your video, because he believed it.
This same young man also handed me another article (“Sequencing of 50 Human Exomes Reveals Adaptation to High Altitude”, Xin Yi, et al, Science, 10.1126/science.1189406, May 2010) which he says was the article that AronRa was actually referring to – however I find it highly unlikely that this was the article. First of all, AronRa posted his video some two years ago, this article came out six months ago – so unless AronRa has some kind of time machine we don’t know about…
Secondly, the article does not claim the glycophorin A mutation is a beneficial mutation, it doesn’t say it helps the Tibetans live at high altitudes, in fact, it doesn’t mention Glycophorin A! In fact in the article they homed in on EPAS1 gene, but even stated that they did not know what the connection is between that gene and living at high altitude! So this article doesn’t help any either.
#3) CCR5 Delta 32 mutation
AronRa then goes on to cite another mutation alleged to have a benefit – the CCR5- delta 32 mutation. This is a mutation that affects some things called receptors on cells. About 10% of European whites have this mutation, and he claims that this mutation first rose about 700 years ago – presumably because of the black plague. He also claims that if the person is homozygous – hey you know what that means now! He claims that if the person is homozygous, that they are resistant, if not immune to AIDS.
The original research report by Stephens, et al, had the mutation first arising between 275 years ago and 1,875 years ago – a very, very wide margin indeed!
The original article is available in full-text, on line, for free: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1377146/pdf/9585595.pdf
The time estimate of 700 years ago was a ballpark speculation on the part of the researchers – nothing more, nothing less. There was NO established connection between the black plague and the CCR5 mutation.
In fact, further research (such as this article here: http://www.pnas.org/content/100/25/15276.full) has shown multiple lines of evidence refuting that speculation, showing that more likely the mutation is not the result of the black plague, but more likely smallpox, or a virus like Ebola, and was caused by multiple disease strikes, not just one big event. Multiple articles point this out, and other articles like this one, point out the historical problems with the black plague hypothesis.
This article is also available on line for free (http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/8/497.full)
AronRa also fails to mention multiple critical points about the CCR5 mutation:
-this mutation is the loss of a receptor; a loss of information.
-the loss of this receptor also means that three important chemicals can no longer join to the cell, because they used that receptor which is now damaged! So it has a detrimental health effect.
-the mutation may provide some resistance to one strain of the HIV virus – but the other HIV strain can still bond to the cell. So much for HIV resistance.
There’s also a short and excellent video on the CCR5 claim here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8agE1HXN9y8
#4) Tetrachromatic women
AronRa then brings up tetrachromatic women – another alleged beneficial mutation which AronRa even claims allows some women to see into the ultraviolet range! Wow! I’m sorry, there’s no nice way to say it! This is more sloppy scholarship here, but to explain it, we’re going to have to delve into some more genetics.
You remember I said you have two chromosomes that are X and/or Y? The only place you can inherit a Y chromosome is from your father. But your father can also give you an X chromosome, and thus if you get two X’s, you are female. Your eyes have cones that see three different colours: Red, Green and Blue. There are actually two different genes that make Red cones, and these genes can produce cones that see slightly different shades of red – one might see more into the orange part of the spectrum.
In some cases, a woman might have genes on one of her X chromosomes that codes for two red cones and a green, instead of one green, one red, and one blue. However, because she has a second set of genes on her other X chromosome that does contain genes for a blue cone, she now has genes for four different color types of cones – enabling her to see more colours than the average person.
Now let’s examine AronRa’s claim: first of all, nobody (except AronRa) is claiming that tetrachromatic women can see into the ultraviolet! Where did he get this idea??? This makes no sense whatsoever! Interestingly, someone else on youtube asked the same question I did, for the same obvious reasons: The literature does not support AronRa’s claim. In response to the question, AronRa pointed to the provided reference and claimed the article said these women could see into the 300nanometer range – the ultraviolet. Three people on youtube gave AronRa’s reply the “thumbs up” I’m gonna venture a guess here that none of those people who gave the reply the thumbs up, nor AronRa himself, actually read the article. I have a copy of the article right here.
Conveniently, the entire article is available on line, for free: http://pbr.psychonomic-journals.org/content/8/2/244.abstract
To test for tetrachromacy, they put the subject in a dark room with one light source which went through a prism, making a rainbow spectrum. They then asked the subjects to trace out the edges of each colour band.
The authors were very specific about the aparatus:
“The light source employed was a 500-
W halogen illuminant with a broad spectral power distribution extending
to the 380 to 780-nm spectral range, with a component well
into the long-wavelength end of the spectrum.”
In other words, the light source only provided light in the visible spectrum.
This was the only light source, so obviously, the subjects were not seeing any ultraviolet light, because there wasn’t any ultraviolet light.
In fact, the article even specifically stated where the effects of tetrachromacy were mapped out:
“[the tetrachromats] perceived more delineations in
the spectrum and exhibited finer grained discrimination
differences in the interval between approximately 580
and 780 nm.”
“A univariate analysis of variance for between-subjects
effects of the width (as the dependent variable) of each
subject’s spectral range showed that the tested subject
groups did not differ significantly regarding the individually
perceived width of the diffracted spectrum [F(3,64)5
0.465, p 5 .79]. This finding excludes the possibility
that increases in banding are simply attributable to an increase
in perceived width of the spectrum by individual
Translation: They couldn’t see beyond the visible light spectrum into the ultraviolet or infrared spectrum, they only perceived more colours around the red region of the visible light spectrum. Read the article yourself.
Thirdly, this is a loss of information – one of the woman’s chromasomes lost the gene for the blue cones and was replaced by another, pre-existing gene for a red or green cone. This is why tetrachromatic women tend to have colorblind sons: The son inherited the damaged X chromosome from his mother, and his father’s Y chromosome doesn’t contain the same color cone either.
But not to worry – according to wikipedia, colorblindness is a beneficial mutation!
“There are some studies which conclude that color blind individuals are better at penetrating certain color camouflages and it has been suggested that this may be the evolutionary explanation for the surprisingly high frequency of congenital red-green color blindness.”
As you can see, it doesn’t matter whether you can see in incredible colour, or black and white, someone, somewhere, will make it out to be a “beneficial mutation” – in this case, you can see your enemies hiding in the bushes better if you’re colourblind! It ignores the fact that you miss out on the fantastic colours in the rest of your life. The idea of a “beneficial mutation” is SO subjective it isn’t funny – the only people who are claiming benefits are those who are desperately trying to prop up the evolutionist myth. Using arguments like this, you could argue that missing your arms is a benefit because now you can’t get handcuffed, or get your arm caught in a machine and dragged into it, killing you, etc…
Lastly, what does this mutation have to do with evolution? NONE of her sons will inherit it, and if her husband happens to have the right mutation, some of her daughters will inherit this trait. And…This has nothing to do with evolution.
#5) German superkid
AronRa then presents us with a family in Germany who were “unusually strong” who had a child who was unusually muscular due to an anti-myostatin mutation.
The child is extra muscular due to a mutation that was already well known from the cattle industry: The belgian blue cattle is bred and farmed just for this very reason – it has the same mutation, and so it develops more muscle (meat) than normal cows. Why? The same reason the German child is developing extra muscle: Because the gene that regulates muscle growth has been damaged, and thus the muscles grow abnormally large. First of all, this is a loss of a gene, a loss of information (gee – notice a trend here?), the gene that controls muscle growth was damaged or lost. With the belgian blue cows, the only benefit of this mutation is for the farmer who gets more beef per head of cattle! In fact, the anti-myostatin defect is a detriment to the cows – it causes problems like lack of fertility. It has yet to be seen what negative impact this loss mutation will have on the child! But you can quote me on this: I predict there will be detrimental effects of this mutation.
Ah, the family in Conneticut who has virtually “unbreakable” bones, due to a mutation. AronRa is talking about a 2002 report of a family, some of whom had a mutation on the LRP5 gene which controls bone density. For whatever reason, AronRa fails to quote the researcher, Dr. Richard Lifton, who said “What we found is that the high bone density in this family behaved as a single gene disorder.” Now why did he use the word “disorder?” Well take a look at this page to see the results of uncontrolled bone growth: http://ahsmediacenter.pbworks.com/w/page/2089727/Effects-3-Bone-11
AronRa, for whatever reason, fails to mention the negative effects of this disorder, such as facial nerve paralysis and loss of feeling due to pinched nerves, and papilledema – which is basically a pinching of the optic nerve from the eye, which causes headaches, nausea and vomiting and messed up vision. This mutation is the loss of a controlling gene for LRP5
So after providing all of these examples of alleged beneficial mutations, we see a pattern: Every single one of them represents a loss of genetic information. AronRa concludes this segment with a curious statement:
“All of these are examples of specifically identified mutations which are definitely beneficial, and which have spread through the subsequent gene pool according to natural selection.”
Wait a minute – let’s say natural selection is the guiding force behind evolution: For today, I’ll ignore the reasons why it isn’t. Let’s also assume that natural selection actually does select all of these mutations that AronRa provided, and let’s say it’s been doing this throughout time. You’ll notice it’s backwards evolution: Natural selection is continually losing genetic information. Therefore according to AronRa’s reasoning and examples, if this keeps up – millions of years of natural selection will eventually lose everything. This is the exact opposite of evolution, which requires the gain of genetic information. Where are the examples of a gain in genetic information? The rising of new functions for example? There aren’t any. Every single one of these was already pre-existing functions, gone awry!
Part 3: Mutations and language
So AronRa then contends that genetic mutations are just like languages! We see languages evolving everyday! For that matter, let’s help him in his analogy: many cultures didn’t have words like “transistor” – they either had to make one, or use the english version, which was made up. Why – that’s new information! That’s just like evolution, isn’t it?
No – those languages were intelligently designed! Further to that, AronRa is apparently unaware that, just like genetic information, languages are de-evolving; they are becoming simpler, not more complex. For example, English used to have masculinity and femininity applied to inanimate objects, just like french does.
So AronRa’s analogy is completely bankrupt, and has absolutely nothing to do with genetic mutations, or evolution.
But then AronRa complains that we creationists haven’t defined information, and says we would claim it takes more information to make a bird than a dinosaur. Who is it that said that? No creationist that I know of! The information in a bird is different than a dinosaur – there may be quantifiable difference in the volume of the information, but I don’t know that we could even calcluate that, because the human race is simply incapapable of measuring that with our present knowledge. But besides this utterly false claim by AronRa, he demonstrates that he is in NO position to complain about creationary definitions of information when he makes flagrantly erroneous statements like
“Any information is different information, not already present, and therefore can only be considered ‘new’.”
I can’t believe you even said that! Let’s put his claim to the test: Here is a fictional mailing address:
223 Margot Way
It contains information for a house in Texas. But let’s say that there’s a change – one digit, that’s it, only one digit is changed in the postal code.
223 Margot Way
Is that “new” information? No! We just lost the entire group of information, because now the mail isn’t going where it’s supposed to. It’s not even going to the right state! Or let’s look at the analogy I made in CrEvo rant #35: IF we have an entry in our telephone book, and we ADD a letter – why, that’s adding information, isn’t it?
It turned our entry for Mr. Johnson into Mr. Johanson! It’s even readable in our language! Isn’t that a GAIN of information? No! It’s a LOSS of information, because we just lost our entire entry for Mr. Johnson – Mr. Johanson does not exist at that phone number, so Mr. Johnson isn’t getting any phone calls because of the LOST information.
Furthermore, creationists HAVE defined what information is, a long time ago, contrary to what AronRa says. Dr. Werner Gitt’s book “In the beginning was information” clearly and carefully spells it out in tremendous detail, and Answers in Genesis even kindly posted his five levels of information on line, for free viewing at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/itbwi/five-levels-information-concept
There will probably have to be a refinement of the theorem when we start to get into specific biological examples, but evolution requires a whole pile of information coming from out of nowhere to begin with, then changing into a whole pile of other information, without killing the organisms! This is in direct contradiction to what we scientifically observe.
Part 4: mutation accumulation and “junk” DNA
In closing, AronRa claims that natural selection weeds out deterimental mutations, keeps the beneficial mutations, and the neutral mutations accumulate as “junk” in the DNA.
Again, for the sake of time, I am going to ignore the fact that natural selection doesn’t filter detrimental and beneficial mutations – I’ll explain this in more detail in CrEvo rant #110 where I’ll deal with the argument of natural selection. AronRa IS correct in that the neutral and near-neutral mutations DO collect in the DNA. That’s a huge problem for evolution, because there is no such thing as “junk DNA” – contrary to what AronRa has claimed. The idea of “junk DNA” was discredited starting about ten years ago – we now know that the alleged “junk DNA” has a whole string of purposes, like punctuation in the genetic code; gene regulation, redundancy, and it plays key roles during development of the organism. In fact, it’s important to note how, once again, evolutionary theory has HINDERED scientific research – claiming these non-coding portions of the DNA were “junk” – why would anybody ever research “junk”? Now bold scientists are finding out that the “junk DNA” is actually a treasure trove of purpose and function.
Therefore, there really is no such thing as a “neutral” or “near-neutral” mutation, because they are all technically a LOSS of information – losses that are indeed, exactly as AronRa said, accumulating over time, and slowly, gradually, destroying our DNA. This is the whole point of genetic entropy, and I would encourage to watch CrEvo Rant #78, and even better yet, get a copy of Dr. Jonathan Sanford’s book, Genetic entropy and the mystery of the genome. Not only is this genetic entropy the opposite of evolution, it also proves we haven’t been here millions of years, because as AronRa says – mutations are common – So common in fact, that after millions of years, our DNA would have had so many accumulated mutations, it would be unreadable, and we would be extinct.
In closing: There may very well be actual cases of beneficial mutations out there that are not a loss of information, or a detriment – but I have yet to hear one. While such beneficial mutations would neither affirm nor refute the creation model (the creation model fits just fine either way), evolution requires many, many beneficial mutations and gain of functions and information. See Dr. Jerry Bergman’s article for a run-down on the hypothetical numbers.
This is only one of many reasons why the creation model, scientifically speaking, is vastly superior to the evolutionary model. But then the question arises: If evolution is incorrect, and the only other option is that we were created, then who is that Creator? I would suggest that Creator is none other than Jesus Christ.
I would call upon AronRa to withdraw his video and his claims from the internet, seeing as how I must respectfully submit they are wrong. I would also call upon AronRa to reconsider the evidence, as the evidence does not support evolution, but points to a Creation now deteriorating – exactly as the Biblical account claims. Where does that leave you, AronRa?
Here’s the address for the script for this video again. Don’t forget to please subscribe to my channel, I should hopefully have the CrEvo Rant # 110 on natural selection coming out shortly, and thanks for watching!