Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Brain Gene Could Explain Why Yours is So Big #1

Brain Gene Could Explain Why Yours is So Big, Livescience, Ker Than, 16 August 2006 ...

[Graphic: Comparison of a chimpanzee brain (left) and human brain (right), University of Arizona]

A detailed scan of the human genome has revealed a small snippet of DNA that has undergone accelerated evolution in humans. [Then this is not Darwinian "evolution" because, as Darwin himself pointed out, "natural selection is a slow process" (my emphasis):

"Lastly, natural selection is a slow process, and the same favourable conditions must long endure in order that any marked effect should thus be produced." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," Sixth Edition, 1872, Senate: London, 1994, p.180)

which "can produce no great or sudden modifications" but "can act only by short and slow steps" (my emphasis):

"As natural selection acts solely by accumulating slight, successive, favourable variations, it can produce no great or sudden modifications; it can act only by short and slow steps. Hence the canon of `Natura non facit saltum,' which every fresh addition to our knowledge tends to confirm, is on this theory intelligible." (Darwin, Ibid, pp.413-414)]

The precise role of the DNA section is unclear, but it is part of a gene that becomes activated during a critical stage of brain development in humans. The genetic code fragment is also found in other animals, but has remained largely unchanged for several million years. [Indeed, as this article itself says (see part #2), this HAR1 region has "remained largely unchanged for several" hundred "million years" in other animals!]

The researchers say the finding, detailed in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Nature, could help explain why the brains of humans are nearly three times larger than those of chimpanzees, our closest living relative. [It is not just that "the brains of humans are nearly three times larger than those of chimpanzees," but, as Gould pointed out, the rate of increase of Homo sapiens' brain size as a proportion of body weight, "is the highest ever calculated for an evolutionary sequence" and "indicates that our brain has increased much more rapidly than any prediction based on compensations for body size" (my emphasis):

"The human brain is now about three times larger than that of Australopithecus. This increase has often been called the most rapid and most important event in the history of evolution. But our bodies have also increased greatly in size. Is this enlargement of the brain a simple consequence of bigger bodies or does it mark new levels of intelligence? To answer this question, I have plotted cranial capacity against inferred body weight for the following fossil hominids (representing, perhaps, our lineage): Australopithecus africanus; Richard Leakey's remarkable find with a cranial capacity of nearly 800 cubic centimeters and an antiquity of more than two million years (weight estimated by David Pilbeam from dimensions of the femur); Homo erectus from Choukoutien (Peking Man); and modern Homo sapiens ... Evolutionary increase in human brain size (dotted line). The four triangles represent a rough evolutionary sequence. Australopithecus africanus, ER-1470 (Richard Leakey's new find with a cranial capacity just slightly less than 800cc), Homo erectus (Peking Man), and Homo sapiens. The slope is the highest ever calculated for an evolutionary sequence. The two solid lines represent more conventional scaling of brain size in australopithecines (above) and great apes (below). ("Size and Scaling in Human Evolution," Pilbeam, David, and Gould, Stephen Jay, Science Vol. 186, pp. 892-901, Fig. 2, 6 December 1974 ...) ... The graph indicates that our brain has increased much more rapidly than any prediction based on compensations for body size would allow. My conclusion is not unconventional, and it does reinforce an ego that we would do well to deflate. Nonetheless, our brain has undergone a true increase in size not related to the demands of our larger body." (Gould, S.J., "Sizing Up Human Intelligence," in "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History," [1978], Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.183-185)

Even this morphological evidence (without its underlying genetic cause) is a falsification of Darwinian evolution as a general theory. Given that natural selection is dependent on generation time, there is no good Darwinian reason why a long-gestation, low-offspring, long-generation-time mammal (as Homo sapiens is) should have the highest rate of change of anything that has been "ever calculated for an evolutionary sequence" (my emphasis).]

... Pollard found 49 regions in the human genome that showed signs of rapid evolution. [As Darwin realised, if something arose "suddenly without any evident natural cause" then that is evidence that "its origins are supernatural":

"The idea of continuity in nature occurs in many places in the history of human thought. Natura non facit saltum-nature makes no jumps-was a guiding motto for generations of evolutionists and protoevolutionists. But Darwin encountered it in a sharp and interesting form, posed as an alternative of terrible import: nature makes no jumps, but God does. Therefore, if we want to know whether something that interests us is of natural origin or supernatural, we must ask: did it arise gradually out of that which came before, or suddenly without any evident natural cause? We can, of course, ask this question about anything in the natural world we can also ask it about the very idea of God. And it was in this form that Darwin encountered the question, while a student at Cambridge. Among the pages of his student notes that survive, there are a few sheets outlining the argument of The Evidence of Christianity Derived from Its Nature and Reception by John Bird Sumner, then Bishop of Salisbury, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Sumner wanted to deal as logically and factually as possible with the question of the origin of Christianity. Was Jesus divine and were his teachings of divine origin, or was Jesus human and were his teachings merely human inventions, either his own or his followers? Sumner's central argument rests on a simple proposition cast in a specific logical form: nature makes no jumps, therefore if something is found in the world that appears suddenly, its origins must be supernatural. The argument for the divine origin of Christianity, then, requires examination of the historical evidences for its sudden appearance without apparent cause in the motives of people as they were known to be at the time of its origin. Sumner argued that the character of Christian morality represented a sharp discontinuity with its Jewish and all other predecessors, that the rapidity of the spread of Christianity was unprecedented: `If Christians were known as a tangible body in Rome, upon whom a popular stigma might be attached, within thirty years of the death of is quite clear that the system was not gradually formed, but regular and authoritative from the first.' [Sumner, Ibid, p.20] Darwin made a chapter-by-chapter outline of Sumner's Evidence. Among his notes there is the following passage: `When one sees a religion set up, that has no existing prototype, demanding such a life as is held in the lowest esteem, and yet most suitable to its object it gives great probability to its divine origin.' [Darwin MSS, Cambridge University Library] In other words, sometime in his Cambridge years, 1827-30, Darwin took cognizance of the proposition that in order to show some thing is of natural origin it must be shown that it evolved gradually from its precursors, otherwise its origins are supernatural. This formulation of the choices open to rational men remained a leitmotif throughout his life." (Gruber, H.E., "Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity," Wildwood House: London, 1974, pp.125-126)

that is, it is creation not "evolution"!

And by "creation" I don't mean Darwin's (and Darwinists') straw man caricature of "atoms ... commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues":

"Several eminent naturalists have of late published their belief that a multitude of reputed species in each genus are not real species; but that other species are real, that is, have been independently created. ... But do they really believe that at innumerable periods in the earth's history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues? Do they believe that at each supposed act of creation one individual or many were produced? Were all the infinitely numerous kinds of animals and plants created as eggs or seed, or as full grown? and in the case of mammals, were they created bearing the false marks of nourishment from the mother's womb? Undoubtedly some of these same questions cannot be answered by those who believe in the appearance or creation of only a few forms of life, or of some one form alone. It has been maintained by several authors that it is as easy to believe in the creation of a million beings as of one; but Maupertuis's philosophical axiom `of least action' leads the mind more willingly to admit the smaller number, and certainly we ought not to believe that innumerable beings within each great class have been created with plain, but deceptive, marks of descent from a single parent." (Darwin, Ibid, p.423)

No, by "creation" I mean "Progressive Mediate Creation," i.e. where God intervened at strategic points in chains of common descent by "inject[ing] essential new genetic material ... in order to facilitate the emergence of new traits":

"Suppose contemporary evolutionary theory had blind chance built into it so firmly that there was simply no way of reconciling it with any sort of divine guidance. It would still be perfectly possible for theists to reject that theory of evolution and accept instead a theory according to which natural processes and laws drove most of evolution, but God on occasion abridged those laws and inserted some crucial mutation into the course of events. Even were God to intervene directly to suspend natural law and inject essential new genetic material at various points in order to facilitate the emergence of new traits and, eventually, new species, that miraculous and deliberate divine intervention would by itself leave unchallenged such key theses of evolutionary theory as that all species derive ultimately from some common ancestor. Descent with genetic intervention is still descent-it is just descent with nonnatural elements in the process." (Ratzsch, D.L., "The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1996, pp.187-188)

But then as Dawkins (citing Darwin) admitted, "supernatural intervention ... at any one stage of descent" would not be "evolution at all" but would in fact be "divine creation" (my emphasis):

"The Duke of Argyll, for instance, accepted the evidence that evolution had happened, but he wanted to smuggle divine creation in by the back door. He wasn't alone. Instead of a single, once and for all creation in the Garden of Eden, many Victorians thought that the deity had intervened repeatedly, at crucial points in evolution. Complex organs like eyes, instead of evolving from simpler ones by slow degrees as Darwin had it, were thought to have sprung into existence in a single instant. Such people rightly perceived that such instant 'evolution', if it occurred, would imply supernatural intervention: that is what they believed in. .... Darwin perceived this too. He wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of Natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' [Darwin, C.R., Letter to C. Lyell, October 11, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.6-7]. This is no petty matter. In Darwin's view, the whole point of the theory of evolution by natural selection was that it provided a non-miraculous account of the existence of complex adaptations. For what it is worth, it is also the whole point of this book. For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, pp.248-249. Emphasis original)!]

Continued in part #2.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'