Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

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Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby segmentation fault » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:41 pm UTC

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... ution.html

In just a few decades the 5-inch-long (13-centimeter-long) lizards have developed a completely new gut structure, larger heads, and a harder bite, researchers say.


score 1 for the evolution crowd.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:46 pm UTC

As the article itself says, we don't even know if these changes were genetic yet, or simply a physical adaptation to the environment.
If me and my family moved to a desert island and you came by thirty years later, you'd see how much darker all of our skin is and how much lighter our hair is. It wouldn't have anything to do with a changing genome, though.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby segmentation fault » Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:52 pm UTC

the 2nd page goes on about the changes in their digestive system which would, to me at least, speak of more than adaptation.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby ZeroSum » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:05 pm UTC

When you say "score one for the evolution crowd" do you mean "score one from the microevolution crowd" or "score one for the macroevolution crowd"?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Belial » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:12 pm UTC

It grew special valves in its stomach for digesting leaves. A biological feature which simply did not exist in the ancestral population. That's huge. It doesn't say whether they're capable of interbreeding with the previous population, but even if it's not technically macroevolution, it is immense.

For more information on the digestive changes, go here:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/still_just_a_lizard.php

And...y'know...read the rest of that blog, because it makes me happy.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby ZeroSum » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:15 pm UTC

Well, as the article states, they still haven't proven if it's a genetic change or not.

I'm not saying it's not, I'm just trying to point out that it's not correct to jump to conclusions or make inferences too large.

But yes, it's quite exciting and special and I'd love to keep updated on the genetic differences and possibilities of interbreeding and what this means for the future climate changes that are predicted.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Belial » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:17 pm UTC

Well, that's what some guy unassociated with the study said. I'm having a hard time believing that one can grow entirely new organ structures without some genetic change.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby ZeroSum » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:32 pm UTC

It's a biologist at a major university who's unbiased with respect to the article.

Is it entirely impossible that a human's appendix could become useful if dropped into an entirely different environment without anything but expression of genes rather than a change in genome changing?

Edit: I'll quit being a jerk about this now, however, since it seems rather ineffective at highlighting the specific peevey nit I was picking at.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Belial » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:13 pm UTC

True, but the appendix was, at one time, functional, and is still an existent structure. We're talking about the appearance of an entirely new structure that didn't exist before, and shows no sign of having existed in the parent population.

You're right, it's not proven. It could be a reexpression of some deep ancestral gene or somesuch, but I'm still going to stake my bets on a genome change.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:15 pm UTC

Belial wrote:True, but the appendix was, at one time, functional, and is still an existent structure. We're talking about the appearance of an entirely new structure that didn't exist before, and shows no sign of having existed in the parent population.

You're right, it's not proven. It could be a reexpression of some deep ancestral gene or somesuch, but I'm still going to stake my bets on a genome change.


How much are you willing to bet?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Belial » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:37 pm UTC

Not enough to give you my mailing address or financial information
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:40 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Not enough to give you my mailing address or financial information


It would be possible to set up something anonymous and financial online. Or we could bet something less tangible and forum-related. Like a signature the loser must (or winner can) display for some period of time?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:46 pm UTC

Belial wrote:You're right, it's not proven. It could be a reexpression of some deep ancestral gene or somesuch, but I'm still going to stake my bets on a genome change.

This is the key discussion that needs to happen. I'd stake MY bets on it being a complex combination of the two. It happened so quickly (30 generations) for such a substantial change that it seems like it must be partly re-expression of a repressed gene AND some genome change.

Anyway, I don't think that changes anything in terms of "scoring one for evolution". The pre-existing gene itself implies genetic heritage form evolution in the first place.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:52 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Anyway, I don't think that changes anything in terms of "scoring one for evolution". The pre-existing gene itself implies genetic heritage form evolution in the first place.


But if it's simply a manifestation of an existing trait through genetic drift and environmental expression, it's a lot less troubling to those of us on the Intelligent Design side who have no issue with the idea of latent genetic advantage but a much bigger issue with emerging genetic advantage.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:12 pm UTC

If you want to think god made the lizard with genes he didn't need just so they'd be used after some scientist moved them in the 70s, then I guess you really shouldn't be troubled by anything in genetics. If that doesn't highlight evolution to you, nothing will.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:13 pm UTC

mosc wrote:If you want to think god made the lizard with genes he didn't need just so they'd be used after some scientist moved them in the 70s, then I guess you really shouldn't be troubled by anything in genetics. If that doesn't highlight evolution to you, nothing will.


It's good to know that we got to "The Intelligent Design proponent must be willfully ignorant" in only one post. Good job, mosc.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:15 pm UTC

if you'd care to point out ANYTHING I said as describing you as ignorant, please do. Otherwise please use a kinder tone.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:16 pm UTC

mosc wrote:if you'd care to point out ANYTHING I said as describing you as ignorant, please do. Otherwise please use a kinder tone.


"If that doesn't highlight evolution to you, nothing will." If you weren't meaning to convey, "You're willfully ignorant", what WERE you trying to say?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:18 pm UTC

Seriously? Wow.

Highlighting evolution means showing evolution in action. If you don't think this example shows evolution in action than nothing will. That's what I'm trying to say.

I'm not insulting you OR your position. I'm trying to say that this is basically all the evidence than I think is needed. If you believe in the "god put those genes there even though he wasn't using them" type of philosophy, I don't see what else I could show to convince you any.

...

Scientific theory needs to be... supportable. If you propose a design theory than it must be questionable, counterable, and provable. It must be validated. This is a counter-example to intelligent design and one that should debunk it as a scientific theory. If you do not agree with that, then I fail to see any scientific evidence that could be found that would convince you.
Last edited by mosc on Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:20 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby psyck0 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

Yes. This is good news. I doubt any of those boneheads who don't believe in science will be convinced, but it may help with some fence-sitters. Perhaps those same boneheads will stop using "macroevolution has never been observed" in their misleading pieces of propoganda, too.

Somehow I doubt it. Still, this is big for science, regardless of whether it does anything for the religious debate.

Edit: Mosc, you CAN'T. Faith is faith. If people want to believe that, nothing will convince them. If faith was subject to rational debate, then there simply wouldn't be any. I'm not saying that faith is bad, just that 'evidence' and 'proof' (rightfully) have absolutely no sway over it.

Avalon, I'm not sure what your exact position is on evolution. If you want to say evolution simply does not occur, then yes, I would have to say I don't think you believe in science. If you want to say that evolution may be guided by some creator, that's fine. I don't have a shred of evidence either way. If you want to see an example of a 'bonehead', look up venomfang_x on youtube, or the westboro baptist church. I wasn't attacking you.
Last edited by psyck0 on Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:27 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

(EDIT: Eliminated highly hostile, sarcastic post in favor of something more direct).

I strongly object to your characterizing Intelligent Design theorists with that sort of brush.

mosc wrote:Scientific theory needs to be... supportable. If you propose a design theory than it must be questionable, counterable, and provable. It must be validated. This is a counter-example to intelligent design and one that should debunk it as a scientific theory. If you do not agree with that, then I fail to see any scientific evidence that could be found that would convince you.


So, you missed the whole point of the post you were responding to, then. If the lizards changed in one way, this is worse news for Intelligent Design theorists than if they changed in a different way. One piece of evidence is better than the other for falsifying the theory. Doesn't that sound like the exact OPPOSITE of what you just described?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:27 pm UTC

edit, previous post edited so the following is no longer needed. However, it is a direct response to earlier text:
Spoiler:
another quote I didn't (nor anybody else here) say. Oh boy. If we're going to discuss something, you might consider avoiding putting words in my mouth in the future. 1) it royally pisses me off 2) it makes you look like a total jackass 3) it really makes any kind of rational discussion impossible.


Now, the issue here is not that you disagree with me, it's that I am trying to indicate that the evidence is not relevant. Either you believe in intelligent design independent of scientific explanation or you don't. It has little to do with whither the biology of the lizard changed due to recessive genes or entirely new ones. I am not criticizing your belief OR trying to change it. I am merely stating that it is a demonstration of evolution no matter which it turns out to be (although I still say it will be both).

EDIT: No, I do not find it WORSE for IDers. It is equally relevant either way.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:31 pm UTC

mosc wrote:I am merely stating that it is a demonstration of evolution no matter which it turns out to be (although I still say it will be both).

EDIT: No, I do not find it WORSE for IDers. It is equally relevant either way.


And I'm saying I disagree. Showing the emergence of a new gene would be very, very bad for those who oppose the Theory of Evolution. Showing the re-use of a gene that was already there doesn't disturb core ID theory at all.

And with regards to the spoiler'd text: you're now upset and think I'm a jackass?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:33 pm UTC

That makes zero sense to me. Please explain. God is capable of placing a gene in a lizard they don't need but not capable of adding a new one later?
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:37 pm UTC

mosc wrote:That makes zero sense to me. Please explain. God is capable of placing a gene in a lizard they don't need but not capable of adding a new one later?


Traditional ID theory is "divine watchmaker" oriented. IE, current development of organism occur naturally, not through miraculous intervention. But some of ID theory is based on the straightforward notion that "new beneficial genes are not produced in modern organisms, which makes it reasonable to assume that they were not produced previously". Demonstrating environmental adaptation has zero impact on ID. Demonstrating the re-use of preexisting genetic material is somewhat problematic for ID but rather easily overcome. Demonstrating the spontaneous development of new beneficial genetic material is VERY problematic for ID.
Important point: many ID theorists don't believe that "junk DNA" is in any way ancestral, and the fact that it becomes useful isn't really evidence that it actually IS ancestral.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby psyck0 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:46 pm UTC

Avalon: WHY does ID disbelieve new, beneficial genetic material can come to exist spontaneously, anyway? I just don't see the reason for needing that belief. You can easily say "god set the whole thing in motion and allowed processes like this to be able to occur, like it (I hate using "he", because it is not male) set humans in motion and allowed us free will" or even "god put the new genes there and guides evolution". I would genuinely like a reason for why evolution is so difficult to accept based on your belief in a god, because I don't understand.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

psyck0 wrote:Avalon: WHY does ID disbelieve new, beneficial genetic material can come to exist spontaneously, anyway? I just don't see the reason for needing that belief. You can easily say "god set the whole thing in motion and allowed processes like this to be able to occur, like it (I hate using "he", because it is not male) set humans in motion and allowed us free will" or even "god put the new genes there and guides evolution". I would genuinely like a reason for why evolution is so difficult to accept based on your belief in a god, because I don't understand.


ID isn't based on a belief in God. ID doesn't actually REQUIRE a belief in God.
The traditional ID theory postulates that life on Earth did not all arise out of a common accident, but instead different organisms were designed and brought into being by intelligence. One of the main pieces of evidence used to bolster that belief is that there is no mechanism evident in nature that would actually provide for development of life on earth through common ancestry. The typically provided evolutionary mechanisms are insufficient to account for present biodiversity.
It is THIS theory that evidence of actual, new features in existing organisms would work against.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:03 pm UTC

that is not a scientific theory at all. It also implies the existence of intelligent non-human life fairly directly so unless you propose something other than "god" in that role, you shouldn't say it doesn't imply belief in god. Also, I think the concept of "traditional Intelligent Design" is clearly false. It is most definitely rooted in creationism. The founders of the movement, the writers of many of the "papers" involved, and the early adopters were ALL previous supporters of creationism (and many still support creationism). Implying Intelligent Design outside of a Christian deity creation mythos is misleading and partially false.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:16 pm UTC

You're turning this into an ad hominem attack. I told you what the theory was. You can work to undermine it by claiming its pedigree is false, or by claiming that what I said the theory represents is untrue. Or you can talk about the actual evidence you believe you have that works against ID theory itself.
Note that the former is no better than arguing against evolution because Darwin was a drunk philanderer.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Green9090 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:26 pm UTC

AvalonXQ wrote:Note that the former is no better than arguing against evolution because Darwin was a drunk philanderer.

I would argue that being a drunk philanderer has very little to do with ability to think scientifically, compared to being a Creationist.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Torvaun » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:27 pm UTC

AvalonXQ wrote:
Belial wrote:Not enough to give you my mailing address or financial information


It would be possible to set up something anonymous and financial online. Or we could bet something less tangible and forum-related. Like a signature the loser must (or winner can) display for some period of time?

You guys both send me the money you're betting, and I'll send it on to the winner.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:31 pm UTC

Green9090 wrote:
AvalonXQ wrote:Note that the former is no better than arguing against evolution because Darwin was a drunk philanderer.

I would argue that being a drunk philanderer has very little to do with ability to think scientifically, compared to being a Creationist.

EDIT: That's enough Creationist-bashing, please. We should probably consider taking this discussion to a thread specifically for it. Or something.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Green9090 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:38 pm UTC

AvalonXQ wrote:
Green9090 wrote:
AvalonXQ wrote:Note that the former is no better than arguing against evolution because Darwin was a drunk philanderer.

I would argue that being a drunk philanderer has very little to do with ability to think scientifically, compared to being a Creationist.


It's good to know you don't think Newton or Galileo had the ability to think scientifically, and that alcohol doesn't compromise judgment. I'm sure your theories about the universe that don't require basic physics and are concocted while you're downing whiskey shots will become the next major scientific breakthrough.

I love how most of your posts here are putting words in people's mouths.

First off, being a drunk philanderer does not imply a state of constant drunkenness. There are usually occasional times at which a person is not drunk, which can be used for scientific thought. Creationists get no such time in which they don't blindly believe that the universe was made by their imaginary friend.

Also, I never said that Creationists can't think scientifically, I just implied that their ability to do so is impaired. Not so much on the gravity-pulling-matter-together front, but more on the species-changing-from-their-original-state front. Though hopefully religion will evolve further in the next hundred years to accept that this is part of "God's plan" as much as the Earth revolving around the Sun, rather than the other way round.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Dr.Robert » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:50 pm UTC

AvalonXQ wrote:One of the main pieces of evidence used to bolster that belief (ID) is that there is no mechanism evident in nature that would actually provide for development of life on earth through common ancestry.


I don't think that counts as evidence in favor of Intelligent Design.

AvalonXQ wrote:Or you can talk about the actual evidence you believe you have that works against ID theory itself.


Therein lies the problem. ID is not a theory (a scientific one, that is). You cannot falsify it.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:53 pm UTC

Dr.Robert wrote:Therein lies the problem. ID is not a theory (a scientific one, that is). You cannot falsify it.


You can certainly falsify the ID theory that I put forward earlier. It states something affirmatively about the universe: that different organisms on this planet developed independently. It also states that the organisms were the result of the intentional act of intelligence. This second part is arguably not falsifiable, but the first part certainly is.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Green9090 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:56 pm UTC

AvalonXQ wrote:
Dr.Robert wrote:Therein lies the problem. ID is not a theory (a scientific one, that is). You cannot falsify it.


You can certainly falsify the ID theory that I put forward earlier. It states something affirmatively about the universe: that different organisms on this planet developed independently. It also states that the organisms were the result of the intentional act of intelligence. This second part is arguably not falsifiable, but the first part certainly is.


If these lizards don't count as a disproof of that first point, I'm not sure if anything will. You can always pull out more smoke and mirrors and say how it doesn't technically disprove the theory. After all, it's talking purely about what has happened in the past.
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:04 am UTC

Green9090 wrote:If these lizards don't count as a disproof of that first point, I'm not sure if anything will.


*sigh* You people don't appear to care what I'm actually SAYING, do you? WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE LIZARDS MEAN YET. We don't know if this is a purely environmental adaptation, a mutation, the reactivation of dormant genetic material, dominance of a minority population, or anything else. As I said BEFORE, if the lizards turn out to be what they're being held up to be, that will strike a strong blow as evidence against Intelligent Design. But they haven't been shown to be that yet, and so stop trying to act like the fact that I'm not sacrificing at the alter of Darwin means that my position is impermeable to evidence.
There's a decent amount of evidence against Intelligent Design -- one of my favorite pieces is 2A-2B chromosome thing in chimps. You don't need to start manufacturing evidence that isn't there yet.
Anybody have anything to say that isn't "You're an ignorant bastard"? No? I guess we're done then?

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby Green9090 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:07 am UTC

It doesn't matter what caused the change; it's a species undergoing a dramatic physical change in response to a change in environment. How would it dispute ID any less effectively if this is a new representation of an existing gene, rather than a new gene? What's the difference, in terms of ID beliefs?
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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby AvalonXQ » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:10 am UTC

Green9090 wrote:It doesn't matter what caused the change; it's a species undergoing a dramatic physical change in response to a change in environment. How would it dispute ID any less effectively if this is a new representation of an existing gene, rather than a new gene? What's the difference, in terms of ID beliefs?


Because the ID theory that I was putting forward doesn't have a problem with animals CHANGING. It has a problem with animals changing into OTHER KINDS OF ANIMALS. A lizard that has some extra sets of genes it can express under certain circumstances is still a lizard. Unless you're saying that common ancestery can occur without any new genes developing and being added? It's true that this would provide SOME evidence for common ancestry (if there's reason to believe the existing genes were ancestral), but it's not as damning as a whole new set of genes.
Besides, you're forgetting the possibility that the change isn't genetic at all, just physiological in response to the environment. Just like the tanning example I mentioned earlier. This wouldn't upset ID theory one little bit.

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Re: Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:18 am UTC

AvalonXQ wrote:You're turning this into an ad hominem attack.
No, he's not. Everything he said was in reference to your arguments rather than your (unrelated) beliefs or you yourself.
Green9090 wrote:First off, being a drunk philanderer does not imply a state of constant drunkenness. There are usually occasional times at which a person is not drunk, which can be used for scientific thought. Creationists get no such time in which they don't blindly believe that the universe was made by their imaginary friend.
You're being fairly offensive to pretty much everyone with religious beliefs that include a god here. You're also being particularly offensive to Creationists. Please don't.
AvalonXQ wrote:You can certainly falsify the ID theory that I put forward earlier. It states something affirmatively about the universe: that different organisms on this planet developed independently. It also states that the organisms were the result of the intentional act of intelligence. This second part is arguably not falsifiable, but the first part certainly is.
The second part is certainly not falsifiable.
Green9090 wrote:It doesn't matter what caused the change; it's a species undergoing a dramatic physical change in response to a change in environment. How would it dispute ID any less effectively if this is a new representation of an existing gene, rather than a new gene? What's the difference, in terms of ID beliefs?
This has been explained, at least to the extent which Avalon needs to explain it. The issue at this point is really more whether or not you agree with his definition of ID, which is even further off topic. Yay!
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!


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