I post this not because it has anything directly to do with UFO Religions, but it does bear peripherally on our discussions.
Many alien life enthusiasts (not to mention intelligent design critics in general) are fond of appealing to the assured results of evolutionary biology in their presumption that life in space would = intelligent life on other worlds. It’s a non-sequitur, as any clear-thinking person would know. Existence and cause & effect are two entirely different matters. But now one of the most credentialed geneticists we’re likely ever to see has abandoned common descent — the lynchpin of current evolutionary biology’s consensus for explaining human evolution. Who’s the scientist? Craig Venter. If you follow news on human genetics at all he needs no introduction. Venter bluntly tells us that he doesn’t believe in common ancestry. Nice.
The best part of the link is that Venter says this to Richard Dawkins, the arch-atheist who has made it his business to do his part for Big Brother Science. I wonder when he’ll send the scientific thought police to Venter’s house.
Looks as if the book title “Evolution a Theory in Crisis” is coming true after all… I argue that Darwinism meets all the parameters of a “creation myth” if you apply the same standards to it that we apply to ancient literature. Turns out their myth is being undermined by science, ohhhh the irony.
I was inclined to agree until I read this exchange in the comments between two readers, Paul MC. & Paul Nelson:
Paul Nelson @ 21:
Venter has doubted universal common descent since at least 2007. At a remarkable science roundtable in Connecticut, organized in August 2007 by the literary uberagent John Brockman, Venter said:
One question is, can we extrapolate back from this data set to describe the most recent common ancestor. I dont necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. Its counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common. (2008, p. 42)
Paulmc: Thanks for your response. I agree entirely Venter is doubtful of universal common descent, which is the very point I made originally. It is inaccurate to say that Venter denies common descent or that this is somehow risky for evolutionary theory. I suspect Venter would be rather disturbed by that sort of talk.
Once again, it is rather clear from the Venter quote you provide that he is interested in transfer of genetic material between species disparate species too. This does occur and is certainly not ignored by evolutionary theory.
paulmc also said: I believe it was clear that Venter didnt think multiple origins would be an important challenge to evolutionary theory. It is an interesting, and currently unknown possiblity.
Yes, Dawkins was clearly surprised to hear Venter express his opinion on multiple origins and made the point that changes to one or two codons would be most parsimoniously interpreted as tRNA code mutations from a common ancestor rather than independent lineages that had converged on very similar genetic codes. On this point, I agree with Dawkins (although I disagree with many of his points of view). Venter did not respond, other than to laugh because Dawkins made a joke at the end of his statement, so it is unclear whether he would go further than that all of which, lets remember, is blue-sky speculation at the moment.
Again, what Venter said was bush of life. This implies horizontal gene transfer between lineages, not a series of completely independent trees of life. But in any case where is the problem for evolutionary theory? Universal common ancestry is not essential to evolutionary theory, nor is Craig Venters support for one or another origins theory. We must be humble in our approach to origins because we know little and are inferring events billions of years past.
All which seems like a fairly balanced perspective. I just worried that people would mistake common descent with universal common descent. You can still have one w/o the other is what I gather from the discussion. Thanks for the link Dr. H!
understood, but saying of his stature saying he puts little or no credence in it seems a denial to me. But if they don’t think he’d use that word, that’s fine. Dawkins certainly reacted in a way that he was taking it as basically a denial.
According to the video and comments below the article, Venter abandoned universal common descent not common descent. Not the same thing.
understood, but this sounds like one can deny universal creation of life and then have some sort of sub-creation of life.
I didn’t see my earlier post so I thought it was deleted, hence the (now) 3 posts. My bad.
I hear ya, just seems like from the comments of ‘they that pay more attention to this kind of thing’ lol that both Dawkins and Venter were aware of the difference (something about a bush not a tree of life and this is somehow significant?) anywhoo, personally even with the multiple origins question it goes back to how did life begin ‘at all’ (abiogenesis) and if we’ll ever truly know since (as was pointed out by the comments) we can only guess as to something that, admittedly, would have taken place billions of years in the past…how accurate can we be? That being said, I also favor evolution as the best paradigm for today based on DNA evidence and the human genome project which Francis S. Collins spearheaded (a christian and an evolutionist now Director of National Health). Funny cuz you linked to an article supposedly stating that he was backtracking on ‘junk DNA’ but I am currently reading the book the quote is attributed to (The Language of Life) and that was taken way out of context. He only says that it’s becoming clearer that what we ‘thought’ was junk DNA serves a purpose and a paragraph later ties this with ‘jumping genes’ and makes his belief in evolution clear quite a few times in the next chapters. Strange behavior for someone supposedly rejecting it as is implied by the site uncommon descent. I’ve learned to take their headlines with a grain of salt.