Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Royal Society Lecture by J. Steve Jones PhD

An apologetic lecture for evolutionism desperately and baldly entitled “Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right”.

He defined evolution as “descent with modification” and gave the evolution of languages as an example citing the work of Sir William Jones.

There are at least two problems with this example one of which is the absence of natural selection in the process of language change which Jones himself mentioned during the lecture only to brush it off without explanation.

He then talked about his gap year experience working at Unilever. He said the factory wanted to develop the most effective nozzle design to make powdered soap so someone suggested they test 10 random designs, take the one that performed best, tweak its design randomly into 10 other shapes, and then test each of them and so on. After so many “generations” they had attained the optimal design.

This was supposed to be an example of biological evolution. However, biological evolution as Jones admitted in the lecture is random and unpredictable whereas the processes of selecting the nozzles as well as the stipulation of the task for which they were being fitted were all intelligently designed by the experimenters. Therefore, it was not random and thus no example of Darwinism.

He then went from the evolution of a nozzle to the evolution of the HIV-AIDS virus. He spent quite a bit of time on this explaining how the virus “evolved” in the 25 years it has been detected in humans. He put up some elaborate slides of family trees of AIDS viruses (virii?) and actually suggested the virus exhibited speciation.

Then he inexplicably put up a slide of (primitive) tools produced by “Neanderthals” and another slide of other (more advanced) tools presumably produced by modern humans, I guess, because he never made it clear nor did he make it clear why he was showing us a bunch of arrowheads.

He then quickly moved on to an anecdote about how a so-called “Cro-Magnon” man could be sitting next to him in the Underground and that he would be indistinguishable from anyone else in the carriage. (Big deal and the point was what exactly?).

The best and most interesting part of the lecture was the section on the FOXP2 gene. Apparently this gene controls the expression of language and is present in fruit flies, birds and also in man. It is also active in some birds like parrots and inactive in others like chickens. Apparently a defect in this gene causes a condition known as “verbal dyspraxia” in humans.

He repeatedly made throw away comments about man being unique and special and actually said “evolution has a limit and we have overstepped it”. I think he was referring to the fact that we have the power to direct our own evolution by making drugs etc. But it does beg the question of how man can “overstep” a process that is supposed to be directing the very nature of his being.

In the question time, someone asked a question about the loss of information through mutation in genes. Prefacing his answer by saying “I get this question all the time” he went on to say that man (and some other creature I can’t recall now) managed somehow to “double their genome”. Golly, how do they manage that? How do you increase your genome ? How do you increase the information content of a system in a process that is supposed to be random?

He ended his comments by taking a final swipe I.D. and left.

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