Marsupials Embryos Develop Differently From “Virtually Every Other Vertebrate”

The 2011 edition of Ken Miller textbook Biology states, “Similar patterns of embryological development provide further evidence that organisms have descended from a common ancestor.” (p. 469) But what happens when supposedly similar types of organisms have very different patterns of embryological development? Would that count as evidence against common ancestry? In fact, researchers are finding striking differences in the development of vertebrates. A recent ScienceDaily release from November 30, 2010, “Marsupial Embryo Jumps Ahead in Development,” states: Duke University researchers have found that the developmental program executed by the marsupial embryo runs in a different order than the program executed by virtually every other vertebrate animal. “The limbs are at a different place in the entire timeline,” said Anna Read More ›

But Isn’t There a Consilience of Data That Corroborates Common Descent?

In my previous post, we saw that Eugenie Koonin argued that a formal test of universal common ancestry (UCA) “is unlikely to be feasible” but yet he claimed that the evidence in support of UCA “by comparative genomics is overwhelming.” Such thinking is common among evolutionists, who seek to to demonstrate UCA by finding a consilience of multiple lines of evidence in favor of it. In his Nature paper, Douglas Theobald similarly seeks to support UCA through a consilience of multiple lines of evidence: UCA is now supported by a wealth of evidence from many independent sources, including: (1) the agreement between phylogeny and biogeography; (2) the correspondence between phylogeny and the palaeontological record; (3) the existence of numerous predicted Read More ›

Douglas Theobald’s Test Of Common Ancestry Ignores Common Design

In my prior post, I explained why Doug Theobald used the wrong null hypothesis for testing common ancestry. The odds of two lengthy genes arriving at a highly similar DNA sequence by chance, or even evolutionary convergence, is extremely small. Unless there’s an underlying political motive, it shouldn’t take a paper in Nature to show that obvious point. Common descent is a much better explanation for these genetic similarities…. Unless, that is, you admit the possibility of common design. If you ignore common design, then the explanation for similarities between gene sequences must be common descent. Doug Theobald’s recent paper in Nature gets to his conclusion only by ignoring the possibility of common design and then equating common design (wrongly Read More ›

Douglas Theobald Tests Universal Common Ancestry by Refuting a Preposterous Null Hypothesis

In March 2010, Douglas Theobald published a paper in Nature purporting to demonstrate “A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry.” According to his cheering squad at National Geographic, the paper “supports the widely held ‘universal common ancestor’ theory first proposed by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago.” National Geographic is mistaken on one obvious point: Darwin wasn’t the first to propose universal common ancestry. But never mind that. The paper makes no official claim to be a response to scientific skeptics of universal common ancestry, but given Theobald’s notoriety as the author of the widely criticized “Talk Origins Common Ancestry FAQ,” his motivation is clear. If there were no doubts about universal common ancestry (“UCA”), his Read More ›

Critics in the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology Take the Easy Way Out in Attacking Intelligent Design

It’s always easier to refute your opponent’s position by replacing it with an outlandish straw man. The most recent issue of the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology contains a paper by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Avelina Espinosa of Roger Williams University, titled “Integrating Horizontal Gene Transfer and Common Descent to Depict Evolution and Contrast It with ‘Common Design’” that takes this approach to attacking intelligent design (ID). As suggested by the title, the article attempts to critique the argument that similar features in diverse organisms can be explained by common design. It cites to both a 1996 paper by Paul Nelson in Biology and Philosophy and a response to Francis Collins published by myself and Logan Gage Read More ›