Doug Brewer poses a fantastic question:
You say that “We can produce new species at will and it happens all the time”.
Do you believe that these same processes which create (what you refer to as) “new species” are also capable of creating new genera, families, orders, classes, phyla and kingdoms?
If so, how?
If not, all you have done is make a slight adjustment to the position (or to the name) of the line which marks the limits of biological change, but the very real limits remain.
If so, we still come back to some form of Intelligent Design as the only other explanation for the origin of new genera, families, orders, classes, phyla and kingdoms.
Doug, allow me to relay a story from Evolution 2.0, Chapter 24, titled “Beyond “God of the Gaps”: A New Paradigm for Biology.” I quote Stephen Hawking from his book God Created the Integers.
One of Isaac Newton’s supporters asked the great scientist, “Could the solar system, with the planets all revolving around the sun in the same direction in almost the same plane, be formed out of an initial uniform distribution of matter by the action of only natural causes, or was it evidence of design?” (218).
Newton answered that his system could in no way explain these obvious regularities in the heavens, that they could not result from the action of only natural causes. The cause “had to be not blind and fortuitous, but very skilled in Mechanics and Geometry.”
And so matters stood for nearly the entire eighteenth century until mathematician Pierre Simon de Laplace blazed his way across the firmament of French science. In 1770, Laplace began a rapid outpouring of papers on a wide variety of topics in pure and applied mathematics, drawing wide attention to himself.
The most important papers focused on outstanding problems in planetary theory. The orbits of the two largest planets Jupiter and Saturn sometimes lagged behind and sometimes ran ahead of their predicted position. Laplace sought to explain how the planets influenced each other in their orbits.
This is a more difficult problem than the three-body problem which even today can only be solved by successive approximations. Laplace demonstrated that perturbations were not cumulative, as Newton feared, but periodic. God did not need to intervene to keep the Solar System from collapsing. (218)
Doug, here’s what we know: Two processes produce new species in real time –
1) Hybrids, where Species 1 crossed with Species 2 gives you Species 3. Example: Emmer wheats + goat grass = modern wheat.
This doubles the number of chromosomes. After this merger, “hybrid dysgenesis” kicks in. Extensive genome editing re-arranges and deletes parts of the new DNA.
Genome studies indicate that a hybridization event of this kind got us from invertebrates to vertebrates. Then a second one got us from vertebrates to jawed vertebrates. This is called “Ohno’s 2R hypothesis,” where the “2R” stands for “2 Rounds of doubling” of chromosomes.
2) Symbiotic events where cells merge. Quoting from Evolution 2.0:
Dr. Kwang Jeon, a professor at the University of Tennessee, did an experiment where tens of thousands of bacteria took up residence inside Amoeba proteus organisms. A fierce parasitic attack ensued, killing almost all the amoeba.
But in the space of a year, amoeba and bacteria entered into symbiosis. Both modified expression of their genes as necessary, to support the mutual dependence (624, 636, 653, 652).
Jeon learned how to reliably trigger symbiotic cell mergers between amoeba and bacteria. It took 200 generations, about 18 months, for the cells to become fully interdependent. After that, removal of either symbiotic partner proved fatal to both (625).
We have excellent reasons to believe a similar symbiotic merger was responsible for plant cells (eukaryote + blue-green algae = plant cell with chloroplast).
Likewise, mitochondria are symbiotic bacteria living inside animal cells. Both mitochondria and chloroplasts have their own DNA.
In other words every green leaf and blade of grass you’ve ever seen is green because blue-green algae lives symbiotically inside plants.
Your ability to use oxygen comes from symbiotic bacteria.
The whole biology good ol’ boys club thought Lynn Margulis was crazy when she introduced this idea to the West in the 1960s. But the Russians had already figured it out 50 years before.
- Horizontal Gene Transfer, cells exchanging DNA;
- Transposition: re-arrangements of DNA in response to changes in the environment
- Epigenetics, heritable switching of genes on and off in response to environment
- Retroviruses, which play a major role transferring genetic material from anywhere to almost anywhere else
- Protozoans can splice their DNA into 100,00 pieces and re-arrange them in real time, in response to threats. This is almost unfathomably sophisticated, but it’s a fact.
…and collectively you get a “Swiss Army Knife” of genetic tools that are, in principle, capable of getting you anywhere on the tree of life to anywhere else.
Darwinists have this naive conception that random copying errors with natural selection have godlike powers and can do anything.
Of course this violates every principle of information theory and probability known to man; this is why Darwinists scream bloody murder any time someone brings up statistics. But it’s impossible for accidental processes to do this. They may as well believe in Superman or the Easter Bunny.
ID people and creationists acknowledge the extreme difficulty of these processes. They believe divine intervention is necessary. But I say nature has enough ingenuity to do this. She is endowed with enough power to pull this off.
Such processes can be studied and reproduced. We can come to understand them better.
#Evolution in 140 characters or less: Genes switch on, switch off, rearrange and exchange. Hybrids double; viruses hijack; cells merge; winners emerge.
This is not the ID position.
ID (as understood by the general public) is exactly what you appear to believe: That “real limits remain” and divine intervention is necessary.
I say nature’s Swiss Army Knife is capable of generating life’s diversity. Mother nature is vastly more amazing than people give her credit for.
I recommend you read my book and James Shapiro’s book Evolution: A View from the 21st Century cover to cover. If my view is only just another form of ID… then why don’t the ID books tell you this stuff?
And… why is this third way view important and valuable? Because it does not pit theology against science. This is a view which stands a chance of being accepted in the academy.
ID as currently understood by most people will never be accepted by the mainstream.
Darwinists underestimate nature. Creationists underestimate God.