back to article Take that, creationists: Boffins witness birth of new species in the lab

A common chant from the anti-evolution crowd is that you can't demonstrate speciation – the creation of new species – in action. Now a team of scientists can do just that for anyone with a few weeks to spare. In a paper published in the journal Science at the end of November, Justin Meyer, an assistant professor of biology at …

  1. Richard 12 Silver badge

    I love a good virus painting

    Pretty colours. Could look at them all day.

    Or are these bacteriophage eating the bacteria?

    Palette and palate, what is difference?

    (PS: There doesn't appear to be a "Report errors/corrections" link on the mobile site.)

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: I love a good virus painting

      These are modelisations of the receptors, in ribbon (as opposed to space-filling) representation. It's just the (probable) conformation of the proteins involved, and a bit esoteric (especially in ribbon form), albeit usefull.

      To be honest the claim of "speciation" here is a bit far-stretched, but the term has always been quite loosely defined in microbiology (and especially virology). The usual consensus is that the concept of species doesn't apply to virions. But it is undoubtedly adaptation, you could label it evolution even, so I'll allow it this time ;-)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame " epic scientific smackdowns " link down

    Is this URL mistype or non-science attacking the only way it can

    1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      Re: Shame " epic scientific smackdowns " link down

      Works for me...

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Shame " epic scientific smackdowns " link down

        Worked for me, too, and a merry read around the various *opedias it was too.

        1. xeroks

          Re: Shame " epic scientific smackdowns " link down

          not for me.

  3. Timmy B Silver badge

    Playing devil's advocate here as I don't buy into their sky daddy any more...

    But loads of creationists won't actually see this as an issue as they will just say that it's not a new type that has been created and that this kind of change has been observed before. Also they will say that there was a whole load of intelligent interference (they will read design) in the process. What they will want to see is a frog becoming a giraffe before they are convinced.....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Worry

    "Another nail in the coffins of the anti-evolution crowd""

    Relax, I'm sure they can come up with some suitable riposte or other.

    The irony is that as the scientific evidence for evolution becomes even stronger, the counter-arguments have to evolve too so as to remain credible. Though I'm not sure that people who are looking for such counter arguments are necessarily concerned about credibility...

    Anyway, how long will it be before such a social division leads to the speciation of the human race? If creationists refuse to breed with anyone who knows that evolution is the normal way of things, then the human race will split into different species. Oh how ironic that would be...

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Also they will say that there was a whole load of intelligent interference....

      ... (they will read design) in the process

      That's a fair thing to say, isn't it? The experiment was designed to try and show this behaviour and it succeeded.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What they will want to see is a frog becoming a giraffe before they are convinced.....

      I am quite sure there's a Pokemon like this.

    3. Jonathan Richards 1

      Before they are convinced

      I think not. Approximately 9 nano-seconds after the tadpole metamorphoses into a (probably tiny) giraffe, someone will opine that the frog was designed by the Creator to become a giraffe at the appropriate time, and that evolution doesn't come into it. Word-of-the-Year 2016 refers, depressingly.

    4. Kiwi Silver badge

      Playing devil's advocate here as I don't buy into their sky daddy any more...

      You beat me to it.

      Not sure I would go to much into the "design" side of things because I haven't looked more into the methodology of the experiment. If it was just putting the virus strain into the petri dish with the strains of bacteria and watching, I wouldn't so much consider the results "designed", just observed.

      Which, as I say later in the thread, is much like I've observer with cats.

    5. Kiwi Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Don't Worry

      The irony is that as the scientific evidence for evolution becomes even stronger,

      [citation needed]

      I know, this'll be downvoted a record number of times, at least for me..

      But at least I am willing to post with my usual handle! Don't have to hide behind AC!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't Worry

        [citation needed]

        RTFArticle.

        I know, this'll be downvoted a record number of times, at least for me..

        No shit Sherlock. If people refuse to use our "God-given" skills of sight, deduction, reasoning and communication to see the universe's splendour for what it really is, then ridicule is heading their way.

        And if people are going to use suppression of the freedom to appreciate the true nature of that splendour as a tool for social control, as seems to the case in fundamentalist religion, bit of a waste of time making it in the first place. How do you think the big fella feels about that?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Don't Worry

          "How do you think the big fella feels about that?"

          I often find that Christians haven't really thought about their religion at all. For instance, when I ask them what religion they think Jesus of Nazareth was they look a bit stunned. The knock-out blow is when I say 'well, he certainly wasn't a Christian was he?'.

          He was a Gnostic* - as was Muhammad.

          *Obviously he was born Jewish though.

    6. Chris Evans

      Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution! They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, especially if you are thinking of the start. Scientist keep coming up with new ideas about the big bang. AIUI many/most see flaws in the various current theories.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!

        I think most people, including journalists, have some vague concept that the theory incorporates some form of intelligent design. How else to make sense of the recurring headlines that say we are "evolving toward" something or that some species is "more evolved"? How is that possible if there is not a plan that is being followed?

        Or maybe they just prattle on with no idea of what the theory actually is.

        1. ChrisBedford

          Re: Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!

          Or maybe they just prattle on with no idea of what the theory actually is.

          I think that's the more accurate assessment. Evolution is probably the least widely understood theory amongst the general public. Lots of people have the idea mutations happen to individual specimens, but that is probably only the grossest mistake. The "I was not descended from an ape" argument probably sums it all up quite well.

          I think more people have a better idea of Relativity than they do of Darwinian evolution.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!

            Anyone wanting to understand evolution should read 'Richard Dawkins - The Selfish Gene'. It sheds a very interesting light on the principle of the survival of the fittest.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!

              Anyone wanting to understand evolution should read 'Richard Dawkins - The Selfish Gene'. It sheds a very interesting light on the principle of the survival of the fittest.
              Anyone who wants to understand the Received View of evolution. This is the account that Dawkins believes and he is at his best as a writer in this book. Dawkins takes too much for granted, however.

              Quoting from the wiki-bloody-pedia:

              Prigogine traces the dispute over determinism back to Darwin, whose attempt to explain individual variability according to evolving populations inspired Ludwig Boltzmann to explain the behavior of gases in terms of populations of particles rather than individual particles.[22] This led to the field of statistical mechanics and the realization that gases undergo irreversible processes. In deterministic physics, all processes are time-reversible, meaning that they can proceed backward as well as forward through time. As Prigogine explains, determinism is fundamentally a denial of the arrow of time. With no arrow of time, there is no longer a privileged moment known as the "present," which follows a determined "past" and precedes an undetermined "future." All of time is simply given, with the future as determined or undetermined as the past. With irreversibility, the arrow of time is reintroduced to physics. Prigogine notes numerous examples of irreversibility, including diffusion, radioactive decay, solar radiation, weather and the emergence and evolution of life. Like weather systems, organisms are unstable systems existing far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Instability resists standard deterministic explanation. Instead, due to sensitivity to initial conditions, unstable systems can only be explained statistically, that is, in terms of probability.
              Prigogine's The End of Certainty: time, chaos, and the new laws of nature is a very rewarding and challenging read.

        2. Jonathan Richards 1

          Re: Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!

          > ... some species is "more evolved"? How is that possible if there is not a plan that is being followed?

          There isn't a plan, and I don't think that respectable evolutionary biologists use loose language such as the examples you give. No organism is "the pinnacle of evolution", or whatever, except in the sense that the current generation is the end result of about three billion years of evolution from the first life form [1]. Evolutionary mechanisms don't look forward in time, and don't need to have any such direction to explain fully the diversity of life which we observe. That is what makes it a successful theory: it explains observations better than any other theory, without having to invent anything more than (i) heritable variation amongst siblings and (ii) some of those siblings reproducing more effectively than others.

          [1] Possibly not the first life form. Maybe there were others, before and after, not based on DNA/RNA and twenty-odd amino acids, but those didn't survive.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I liked what one Christian who was a scientist said: he believed in evolution from Monday to Saturday, and on Sunday he believed in Creationism.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Evolution is a dirty word to creationists. Maybe the creationists you know are just pretending..

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: 'Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!'

        Nope. All Christians believe in a Creator, but that doesn't mean they buy into the wacky world of 'creationist' pseudoscience.

        Btw, 'creationists' will just say the virus has adapted within the range it was designed to do, and go on to say adaption isn't evolution.

    7. ratfox Silver badge
      Trollface

      Power-crazed scientists create unnatural species!!1!

      A group of so-called "scientists", in a futile attempt to deny the majesty of God's creation, have done the unthinkable. These individuals, whose funding should immediately be rescinded, have created in their unspeakable experiments a chimera-like living creature. Disturbingly, they are now claiming that their despoliation of the God's work was somehow the result of a "natural process".

      Given that the perpetrators have admitted their crime against God's order, and have even published it in a scientific journal, the news of their arrest by the Spanish inquisition is unexpected any time soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Power-crazed scientists create unnatural species!!1!

        Unexpected, but equipped with a comfy chair?

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Power-crazed scientists create unnatural species!!1!

        "A group of so-called "scientists", in a futile attempt to deny the majesty of God's creation, have done the unthinkable. These individuals, whose funding should immediately be rescinded, have created in their unspeakable experiments a chimera-like living creature."

        If it were truly against God's Will, it would never have occurred. Otherwise, he has no capacity to stop man; ergo, God is not omnipotent.

    8. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      frog becoming a giraffe

      Nope, that won't convince them.

      Nothing will.

      I have a bunch of creationists in my family, and even the educated ones eventually retreat to a Matrix-like circular logic if pressed hard. An example would be radionuclide dating - they will eventually argue that the world is really 6800 years old but all the isotopes & fossils and such were made by the creator to make the Laws of Physics make it look like things (like the planet & universe) are billions of years old. They don't get that Scientifically, if you accept that prima facie, it means that saying "the world is really 6800 years old" is a meaningless statement.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: frog becoming a giraffe

        An example would be radionuclide dating - they will eventually argue that the world is really 6800 years old but all the isotopes & fossils and such were made by the creator to make the Laws of Physics make it look like things (like the planet & universe) are billions of years old.

        It's 1:30am here, so I'm going to make this my last post for tonight.. Don't you feel honoured? :)

        While I believe the world is thousands of years old, I do not know for sure exactly how old. I do not believe that our Lord ever lied or acted decieptfully. I do believe that some things in physics have changed (eg recent El Reg article on speed of light changing), and that some things may not yet be fully figured out (eg perhaps some chemical reactions can cause some isotypes to decay at other rates - but maybe not explaiing myself veryu clearly). Main point I want to say though is that

        fossils are the remains of animals/plants etc that literally existed in our past. God does not want people to have false concepts, and "it is God's will that none will perish" so why would He deliberately plant evidence that could lead people astray?

        Ask your relatives why they believe God was deceitful. I would be interested in hearing their logic.

        God made the universe to look as old as it really is, not one second older or newer. To me it looks to be a "few" thousand years, but there's some issues with that I haven't yet fully grasped. Not best state to try and explain but basically I accept the possibility of time dilation with an expanding universe, where some of the universe has experienced illions or billions of yaers of time while the Earth has not despite all being made at the same time. I cannot accept that God made light of a supernova only as light from that where the nova did not occur, if we see it then it happened. God is not a man that he should lie!

        People who believe God planted false evidence need to have another look at their beliefs, and their Bible - they don't know Him if they think He ever lied!

        (My apologies to those who read this. To many days fo to little sleep and I need rest now)

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: frog becoming a giraffe

          "While I believe the world is thousands of years old, I do not know for sure exactly how old"

          So, why not accept the evidence and measurements others have made? Why stick to the dogma?

          " but there's some issues with that I haven't yet fully grasped"

          That's because you are trying to fit the evidence into your theory, rather than adjusting the theory to fit the evidence, which is the fundamental problem with a religious explanation of reality.

          "God does not want people to have false concepts" && " they don't know Him if they think He ever lied!"

          Are you discarding the old testament? There are a LOT of "divine lies" in there. The most obvious one is God demanding of the sacrifice of Isaac, but there are many more. If you accept the bible as "truth" then the fact is that God lies quite a bit....

          [http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/the-biblical-lies-of-god-and-jesus.html]

          “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

          Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

          Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

          Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” ~ Epicurus

          1. Vic

            Re: frog becoming a giraffe

            Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

            The one I like is: Can God create something so massive that even He cannot lift it?

            If He can - then He can't lift is, so is not omnipotent.

            If He can't - then He is not omnipotent.

            For my next trick, I shall don copper armour, stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm, and shout "all gods are bastards"...

            Vic.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: frog becoming a giraffe

              @ Vic

              Well-known as The Paradox of the Stone; smoke enough weed and you'll believe anything :-)

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: frog becoming a giraffe

          I could just as "rationally" argue that the Earth is really only a few hours old. I was created just a few minutes ago with memories of past events that never happened. Or maybe there is no Earth at all, and we are in a "Matrix" type simulation. I think, therefore I am, but nothing and nobody else is real. There is no way to prove conclusively otherwise - any argument can be counteracted by stating that the system is created to have the appropriate appearances and illusions.

          I cannot know for certain what reality is - but trusting my senses and memories, and using Occam's razor would seem to be the best method to use. Unless I really wanted to become insane.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Unhappy

            "but nothing and nobody else is real. There is no way to prove conclusively otherwise"

            True.

            A notion first put forward by Bishop Berkley in the 1700's.

        3. Rol Silver badge

          Re: frog becoming a giraffe

          "Excuse me, but I couldn't help overhearing your explanation of that giraffe to your child"

          "Fish!"

          "Yes, quite. As you put it. Fish. But it is quite clearly a giraffe"

          "No, it is a fish. If has just specialised"

          "It looks nothing like a fish. It has lungs instead of gills, legs instead of fins, fur instead of scales."

          "Ah, but back when it was just a foetus, it looked exactly like the foetus of a fish"

          "Well that's true for virtually everything that walks, crawls, slithers and whatever. You can't call everything a fish and have any meaningful dialogue about wildlife. We have to give unique names to divergent species if we are ever going to make sense of it all."

          "No we don't. That just adds to the confusion and encourages ideas of creationism. No. For better or worse, it's best we keep things very, very simple. You only need to look around you, and see how some humans can conjure fact from fiction and steadfastly believe it, even though they read it in a fictional book"

          "You mean like the people looking for King Arthur's relics, even though he was the creation of some Welsh poets"

          "Exactly"

          "Mmm, so if I bought my pescetarian girlfriend a four legged, hide covered, grass munching, mooing fish supper, that'd be OK then?"

        4. ChrisBedford

          Re: frog becoming a giraffe - is it just me?

          ...or does anyone else find this incoherent?

          [...]basically I accept the possibility of time dilation with an expanding universe, where some of the universe has experienced illions or billions of yaers of time while the Earth has not despite all being made at the same time. I cannot accept that God made light of a supernova only as light from that where the nova did not occur, if we see it then it happened.

          I re-read it a few times but couldn't make head or tail of it. Not just this but pretty much the whole post just reads as a confused rant to me.

        5. Vic

          Re: frog becoming a giraffe

          I believe the world is thousands of years old

          Me too.

          About four and a half million thousands...

          Vic.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: frog becoming a giraffe

        I have a bunch of creationists in my family, and even the educated ones eventually retreat to a Matrix-like circular logic if pressed hard. An example would be radionuclide dating - they will eventually argue that the world is really 6800 years old but all the isotopes & fossils and such were made by the creator to make the Laws of Physics make it look like things (like the planet & universe) are billions of years old

        Now, some creationists are fundamentalists and thus interpret the Bible literally.

        Some will (if they understand) argue that the two DIFFERENT creation stories in the Bible are the same (and even written by the same author, or at the same time!)

        Other people believe in creation, but allow for evolution (e.g. need to explain Big Bang, the "days" in the creation story are just phases [after all, a thousand years is but a day to God].)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Want to see a "young earther" squirm?

          Ask 'em how many years of obvious high organic/low organic deposits there are in the outflow of the Colorado River[0] ... Spring floods from melting snow wash organic material into the river's delta. The rest of the year, it's pretty much all inorganic. The layers are easily counted in core samples ... There are a lot more than a million layers.

          [0] Nicely halted by the Imperial Valley and LA drinking it all, but that's another rant.

          1. keithpeter
            Pint

            Re: Want to see a "young earther" squirm?

            "[0] Nicely halted by the Imperial Valley and LA drinking it all, but that's another rant."

            @jake: Warning, clueless Brit here.

            What is your take on the water treaty situation down there?

            http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/colorado-river-mexico-water-sharing-trump-231811

            Beer icon: you might need as many bottles as you can get soon...

            1. jake Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Want to see a "young earther" squirm?

              Hopefully it'll get hammered out before PE Bluto takes office.

              Note that if the blustering blowhard cancels water delivery from the Colorado River to Mexico, Mexico will retaliate by stopping water delivery to the agricultural area of the Rio Grande valley in Texas (they own Rio Conchos).

              The most alarming thing in all of this is that PE Bluto claimed that there was no water shortage in California and the other Western States, and in fact there was obviously more than enough, and that the drought was a figment of the Dem's imagination ...

              And sadly, after many year of contention, the Western States & Mexico have finally been negotiating in good faith these last several years. The soon-to-be BigFatIdiot-in-chief is in position to completely balls that up ... and probably will.

              Ah, well. We live in interesting times. I think I'll relax and have a homebrew. This round is on me.

    9. SL1979

      "What they will want to see is a frog becoming a giraffe before they are convinced....."

      This is a really good point, and one that gets pushed aside quite frequently when debating occurs between the evolutionary scientists and creationists. It seems as though creationists are in some way convinced that macro-evolution is the type of evolution that's being touted by science as "fact". In reality, they're just making a claim that tries to discredit evolution by way of science being unable to prove that macro-evolution has ever taken place. This is a logical fallacy at its core.

      Evolutionary science, to my knowledge, has never operated on the premise that macro-evolution is the holy grail of evolutionary science. Evolutionary scientists, biologists, and anthropologists have always backed the theory that evolution has taken hold over millions, possibly billions of years, and has done so on a micro-evolutionary scale. Yes, that means adaptation eventually leading to the divergence of different species. The creationists are playing the wrong card, in the wrong game, while being wholly convinced that their side is "winning" the argument. That's the difference between the arrogance of faith, and the empirical evidence on which science operates. Evolution may be wholly compatible with the theory of "intelligent design". The problem, however, appears to be that those who espouse the idea of "intelligent design" seem to suffer from a complete lack of the intelligence from which they claim to have been created.

    10. davcefai

      No, nothing will convince them except possibly their $DEITY chucking a stone tablet down a mountain.

      Let's face it, how can they stand the idea of being "descended from a monkey"?

    11. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Well, here's the millions-years-old fossilised frog (points), and here's the living giraffe (points). Where's the problem?

  5. MatsSvensson

    LOOK WHAT JESUS DID!!!!

    LOOK WHAT JESUS DID!!!!

    LOOK WHAT JESUS DID!!!!

    LOOK WHAT JESUS DID!!!!

    1. Rafael 1
      Trollface

      YEAH!

      WHO CREATED THE SCIENTISTS? HUH?

      (Part of a long discussion with an ex-coworker who tried to prove to me that ALL is intelligently-designed. Some years later he got one of these semi-serious diseases that could be treated but was scary for a bit. Good thing the barded fairy that creates the disease creates also the cure, or who studies the cure!).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you drunk or merely stupid?

      I have not heard the craziest evolutionist suggest Jesus was responsible for the evolution of man. For obvious reasons.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "Jesus was responsible for the evolution of man"

        Wow. For the guy that got nailed to a tree that's kind of like the ultimate "Turned against their master" trope.

  6. smartypants

    Creationists aren't listening.

    They'll just come up with some post hoc argument to try to fit the evidence. If they can imagine Jesus riding on a dinosaur in America, and their God sneakily planting all those fossils to mislead the 'unbeliever', then I'm sure they'll have something amusing to plug in their ears on this occasion.

    Perhaps God invented a new species during this experiment on purpose to ensure that these evil disbelievers would be tricked into continuing to believe in evolution, and therefore eventually burn in hell (which does say something about the quality of final-day-judgement, but that's for another occasion...)

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Creationists aren't listening.

      Exactly.

      They'll just pass this off as anti-Trump Fake news OR an FBI Plot just like the Moon Landings.

      I am waiting got the 'Dear Leader' of the USA to Tweet his thoughts on the matter. I don't know if I should laugh or cry at the stupidity of some recent tweets.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Creationists aren't listening.

        They'll just pass this off as anti-Trump Fake news OR an FBI Plot just like the Moon Landings.

        Huh? You on some weird drugs or something?

        Pretty sure Trump isn't Christian "By their fruits you shall know them " - he certainly doesn't act much like "love thy neighbour" (at least unless his neighbour is a young lass, but I digress). Not sure what your "FBI plot" or "Moon Landings" weirdness was about. Care to elaborate?

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Trollface

          "They'll just pass this off as anti-Trump Fake news"

          Think of it as written shorthand for "Swivel Eyed Loon."

          Which is what most rational people think most creationalists are.

        2. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: Creationists aren't listening.

          "Pretty sure Trump isn't Christian"

          First president-elect to not end their acceptance speech with "God Bless America". Instead, he chose to say "I Love this country. I love America.". He's also been quoted in the past saying that "Churches that act like business should be treated like business and pay their taxes.". Fairly clear that he's not in the financial pockets of the bible-belt spawed neocons either.

          I'm no Trump fan, but I wonder if America realises they've just elected their first openly agnostic president?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Creationists aren't listening.

          Pretty sure Trump isn't Christian "By their fruits you shall know them " - he certainly doesn't act much like "love thy neighbour"

          Of course he is a christian, he calls himself a christian then he is a christian. And, he definitely is into "love thy neighbour" especially women that he can grab by the crotch...

    3. Kiwi Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Creationists aren't listening.

      They'll just come up with some post hoc argument to try to fit the evidence. If they can imagine Jesus riding on a dinosaur in America, and their God sneakily planting all those fossils to mislead the 'unbeliever', then I'm sure they'll have something amusing to plug in their ears on this occasion.

      Er, what's with this "planting fossils" nonsense? Fossils are the remains of plants or animals (or fish or whatever..) that once lived on the earth, but were rapidly buried at some stage a few thousand years ago.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Creationists aren't listening.

        "Fossils are the remains of plants or animals (or fish or whatever..) that once lived on the earth, but were rapidly buried at some stage a few thousand years ago."

        Yeah, they'd probably say they are the flood victims. If Lots wife can be turned into a pillar of salt instantly, then fossils from flood victims should be just as easy. Sadly, I've heard that put forward as an argument :-(

      2. Tachikoma

        Re: Creationists aren't listening.

        Fossils are the remains of plants or animals (or fish or whatever..) that once lived on the earth, but were rapidly buried at some stage a few thousand years ago.

        Find me a fossil of a T-Rex with a modern human skeleton in its stomach, and I will believe you.

      3. Chris 239

        Re: Creationists aren't listening.

        "Fossils are the remains of plants or animals (or fish or whatever..) that once lived on the earth, but were rapidly buried at some stage a few thousand years ago."

        By the down votes I assume there's a quite few people with sarcasm detector failure!!

        or does my detector need recalibration! I definitely read this as sarcasm.

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Creationists aren't listening.

      I'm still waiting for an explanation for why the Designer-in-Chief put so much of "our" oil under the deserts of the infidels.

      As to the research in question: very interesting! Sadly, it will probably incur yet another strain of multi-resistant creationists.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Creationists aren't listening.

        I'm still waiting for an explanation for why the Designer-in-Chief put so much of "our" oil under the deserts of the infidels.

        Oh ye of little faith! Clearly it is a Sign that He wants us to smite the current inhabitants of those lands with mighty wrath. What do you mean, "circular logic"? What other kind is there?

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Creationists aren't listening.

          The Book of Joshua provides the ground rules. Seize the land, slaughter the inhabitants.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Creationists aren't listening.

        I'm still waiting for an explanation for why the Designer-in-Chief put so much of "our" oil under the deserts of the infidels.

        You're ruling out that he has a sense of humor? Or mischief?

        1. cambsukguy

          Re: Creationists aren't listening.

          >You're ruling out that he has a sense of humor? Or mischief?

          He obviously does, not a drop in Israel.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Happy

            "He obviously does, not a drop in Israel."

            Welllllll.

            The oil industry has spent a shedload of cash over the years collecting seismic data (roughly 13bits resolution for the IT angle) and every so often a new version of the visualization software comes out with some new algorithms to squeeze just that little extra smidgen of resolution out of the tapes.

            For real S&G one day very narrow fingers of the oil bearing strata under the rest of the Middle East are found projecting under Israel, who sets up drilling rigs and then applies to join OPEC

            With, as they say, "Hilarious consequences."

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Creationists aren't listening.

      "They'll just come up with some post hoc argument to try to fit the evidence. "

      unfortunately you're most likely right, or else it will be carefully forgotten and buried or something.

      I don't hold to a pure-non-creation type of evolution, nor a non-evolution type of creation. In fact, in my opinion, creation requires INTELLIGENCE, and not necessarily a god. And so the spaghetti monster will do, if that's what you want.

      I figure that epigenetics plays a BIG part in evolution and carrying the 'evolved' genetic codes into the subsequent generations. If I'm right, epigentics may be directly affected by force of will, survival instinct, stress [like an extinction-level event], and whatnot, resulting in a type of evolution that's brought about only by catastrophe - that's kinda what we see in the rocks, right?

      In a way this experiment fits that last definition. The 'catastrophe' was the introduction of 2 new food sources NOT previously seen before [and a lack of 'the usual stuff']. The virus adapted in interesting ways to that "stress factor", evolving into 2 new species.

      then again, if they can evolve BACK, then it's not evolution, but cyclic mutation. THAT would prove to be an interesting experiment as well [try to force it to evolve BACK].

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get with the program!

    Biblical Creationists have believed in speciation for at least 50 years!

    For example, we believe that tigers and lions speciated from one kind.

    1. Bernard M. Orwell

      Re: Get with the program!

      "Biblical Creationists have believed in speciation for at least 50 years! For example, we believe that tigers and lions speciated from one kind."

      A creationist? Here?

      My word, that's brave.

      1. Afernie

        Re: Get with the program!

        "A creationist? Here?

        My word, that's brave"

        I suspect Poe's Law may be in effect.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Get with the program!

        A creationist? Here?

        My word, that's brave.

        More than one.

        (Thought I keep breaking my halo...)

    2. PassiveSmoking

      Re: Get with the program!

      Are you claiming that lions and tigers are different breeds of the same species? Because no creationist I've ever spoken to believes that.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Get with the program!

        Are you claiming that lions and tigers are different breeds of the same species? Because no creationist I've ever spoken to believes that.

        A "Liger" is a cross between a Lion and Tiger, right? Which would show that they're pretty closely related, enough to cross-breed viably (sorry I don't know whether their offspring can continue breeding or are sterile).

        So that would suggest pretty much same species (maybe depending on how you define "species").

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: Get with the program!

          "...I don't know whether their offspring can continue breeding or are sterile..."

          There have been 2nd generation hybrids, descending both from 2 hybrid parents and from a hybrid plus a member of one of the original species. The important part here is that the hybrids -both second and first generation- a) are very scarce*, and b) produce very 'fragile' offspring that could not conceivably survive and reproduce in natural conditions.

          My point here is that in those natural conditions, lions and tigers are effectively two different species with a gnat's-fart-in-a-tornado chance of passing genes from one species to the other, so at least under the Population Genetics definition, they're two different species. On the other hand, the shared physical characteristics, the fossil record and the genetic evidence point very clearly towards a common origin**.

          * Both species are geographically separated and hostile to each other in natural conditions.

          ** For a better example of recent speciation, consider "Clines" and Darwin's finches.

          1. Craig Chambers

            Re: Get with the program!

            Point of interest...

            Asiatic lions still live in very small numbers in the Gir forest National Park in India, which is also home to tigers.

            Reference: Price, Willard (1979) Tiger Adventure*

            * They also have them at Chester Zoo ;-)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Get with the program!

              @Craig Chambers

              > Reference: Price, Willard (1979) Tiger Adventure*

              Upvote for bringing on a bout of nostalgia! :-)

              I used to love reading his stories when I was a child.

        2. Scroticus Canis

          Re: Get with the program! @Kiwi

          For sexually reproducing organisms I was always taught that they are the same species if they have the same number of chromosomes AND can produce non-sterile offspring. Breed donkey and horse and get a mule or hinny, both of which are (nearly always) sterile, as horses and donkeys have different chromosome counts and are certainly different species.

          Different sub-species should always produce non-sterile offspring.

          Interestingly did recently read that the modern man/Neanderthal cross-breeding produced reproductively capable females but sterile males; hence no Neanderthal X chromosomes in the current human genome (no matter what the feminists say to the contrary).

          1. Scroticus Canis

            Re: Get with the program! @Kiwi - correction by poster

            For "X chromosomes" it should of course be "Y chromosomes" - the male one!

            I must have had a brain-fart when I made that typo. Strangely it came to mind last night so I must have registered it at some level when I made it.

        3. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: Get with the program!

          A "Liger" is a cross between a Lion and Tiger, right? Which would show that they're pretty closely related, enough to cross-breed viably (sorry I don't know whether their offspring can continue breeding or are sterile).

          So that would suggest pretty much same species (maybe depending on how you define "species").

          google "define:species"

          1. BIOLOGY

          a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding. The species is the principal natural taxonomic unit, ranking below a genus and denoted by a Latin binomial, e.g. Homo sapiens.

          Tigers and lions may be able to breed, but like horses and donkeys, the offspring are infertile. As such, they cannot successfully interbreed, which is one reason they're classified as different species.

        4. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Get with the program!

          > A "Liger" is a cross between a Lion and Tiger, right? Which would show that they're pretty closely related, enough to cross-breed viably (sorry I don't know whether their offspring can continue breeding or are sterile).

          Sterile. Actually the lion belongs to the genus Canis, not Felis, so not only are tigers and lions not the same species, they are actually quite distant. The lion is closer to Paris H's handbag ornament than to the tiger, surprising as it may seem.

          You'll note that horses and donkeys can have offsprings (sterile, too) despite being from 2 different genus too.

          1. IT Poser

            Re: Get with the program!

            Do not attempt to google Paris Hilton's handbag ornament at work.

            1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

              Re: Get with the program!

              > Do not attempt to google Paris Hilton's handbag ornament at work.

              Could be worst. "paris hilton donkey breeding" for example. (not that I tried, mind)

          2. Dagg
            FAIL

            Re: Get with the program!

            Actually the lion belongs to the genus Canis

            Massive Fail.

            The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae.

  8. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Meh...

    I thought viruses officially weren't alive, so I find this an unconvincing demonstration that living things can speciate.

    Worse, it probably hurts your case. If you subsequently show that the bacteria evolve into resistant and distinct sub-groups then you might have a story worth telling. Sadly, however, no-one will be listening because you made a similar claim in the past and were discredited.

    1. Jack Douglas
      Meh

      Re: Meh...

      > I thought viruses officially weren't alive, so I find this an unconvincing demonstration that living things can speciate.

      "they are non-living particles with some chemical characteristics similar to those of life" according to Wikipedia

      It's indirect evidence really — 'species' means something different for a virus that it does for living organisms, particularly those that reproduce sexually.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1
        Go

        Re: Meh...

        > non-living particles with some chemical characteristics similar to those of life

        +1

        Crucially, though, those chemical characteristics include DNA, and its transcription to form the proteins that constitute the phenotype of the virus (bacteriophage, in fact). This is the 'engine' that mutation and evolution work on. Because the phage needs the bacterial cell mechanisms to achieve its reproduction, the phage isn't considered alive: it can't reproduce. But clearly it can evolve: mutations in its DNA lead to different phenotypes, with different abilities to infect certain bacterial cells. Whether that is 'speciation' depends on your definition of 'species'. That way madness lies! After all, the entire concept of 'species' was made up when species were considered to be immutable.

    2. tony2heads

      Re: Meh...

      Whether viruses are alive or not is still a moot point. See the Kahn Academy take on this.

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Meh...

      I thought viruses officially weren't alive, so I find this an unconvincing demonstration that living things can speciate.

      From the fine article:

      Lenski gained fame when his ongoing experiment, which began in 1988, conclusively showed speciation in E. coli bacteria.

      Lenski demonstrate that over time the bacteria could evolve into a new type that could grow using entirely new food sources.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Meh...

        That was indeed in the fine article, but only as part of the career background of one of the teachers of the person doing the experiment in the article. The experiment that was the subject of the article was a demonstration of changes in viral DNA. The bacteria remained unchanged at the end of paragraph 3.

        It's this kind of lazy shifting from one thing to another that I was crtiticising in my comment, because it makes it easier for the nut-jobs to make it look like scientists are shifty and slack with standards of evidence.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Meh...

          It's this kind of lazy shifting from one thing to another that I was crtiticising in my comment, because it makes it easier for the nut-jobs to make it look like scientists are shifty and slack with standards of evidence.
          There's plenty of evidence that "scientists are shifty and slack with standards of evidence"; Richard Dawkins for example. In The God Delusion ascribes atheism to both Albert Einstein and Martin Gardner, both of whom professed to believe in God, without providing a shred of evidence.

          The statement of his that infuriated me the most was: "I would like people to appreciate science in the same way they appreciate the arts." IOW it's OK to look, but you're not allowed to ask pertinent questions.

    4. Falmor

      Re: Meh...

      Viruses aren't technically alive but its not the viruses that showed evolution, it was bacteria who were infected with the virus. If you want strong evidence for evolution, take a look at Ring Species: http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/irwin.html

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe

    But it still doesn't explain Americans.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Maybe

      But it still doesn't explain Americans.

      - What? A country mostly populated by the descendants of people 'fleeing religious persecution' (i.e. a lot of religious nut-jobs)

      - Barring the occassional 'mutant' going against the grain, no evolution happening among the 'American' branch of the species.

      Meanwhile Britain seems to have caught some sort of retro-virus, possibly merely cultural contamination, but I'm not ruling out a weapon of assimilation, possibly transmitted in the TV signals.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "But it still doesn't explain Americans."

        Survival of the fattest?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe

        @Tiewaz

        It's a joke. Joyce!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe you'll get what you deserve!

        How about some reality, Americans were fleeing BRITISH anti-religious persecutors (My first relatives in this country) and that intolerant crap is STILL going on as evidenced by these very blog pages.

        Meanwhile, YOU BRITONS; are so arrogant, content and smug with your atheism while the muslims you have let invade your country are not going to be as generous as Christians have been.

        You fools fail to even have a single tolerant and respectable bone in your bodies. Far be it for me to interfere when you find out the hard way muslims weren't kidding when the said they would kill all the infidels and bring you the gift of Sharia Law.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Maybe you'll get what you deserve!

          > Americans were fleeing BRITISH anti-religious persecutors

          No, that is quite wrong. Some religious people were fleeing British persecutors from a _different_ religion. Others that wound up in America were being persecuted in _other_ European countries by yet other religious groups. They may have been anti-their-religion, but that is the nature of many religions: catholics killed the cathars, CoE persecuted the catholics (and others).

          The main problem is religions that are intolerant of other religions, just as you portray, and you seem to be arrogant and intolerant of non-religious people, too.

          > YOU BRITONS; are so arrogant, content and smug with your atheism

          People that you label as 'atheists' exist in all parts of the world, as do people that you may label as pagan or some other term because their religion is not the same as yours.

          > You fools fail to even have a single tolerant and respectable bone in your bodies.

          The irony just broke the scale.

        2. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: Maybe you'll get what you deserve!

          "How about some reality..."

          Oh look everyone! it's an AC with a controversial opinion! Hiya!

          "Americans were fleeing BRITISH anti-religious persecutors..."

          Nope. For one, they were mostly Dutch and set sail from Dutch ports. Some of the passengers were "Society of Friends" types, who were insisting, in Britain, that THEIR version of religion should be imposed on the nation. The Nation, which was not very far past tearing down the catholic church and installing a new protestant one of their own (kings) design rejected that, so the Pilgrim Fathers buggered off across the sea in a snit to set up their own (highly restrictive and fundamentalist) religious enclave. See: Cult

          No atheists involved at all; two different psuedo-religious sects having a pop at each other for political purposes.

          " the muslims you have let invade your country are not going to be as generous as Christians have been."

          Thanks for the LOLz. Name me a country, run by a religious leadership, where other religions are tolerated to the same degree as the "principle" religion of that country. If you want freedom of religion, chap, you'd be worse than to be in the UK, or another similar sectarian nation. You see, us atheists believe in freedom of speech and religion; you can believe what you like here, we don't care, unless you try to impose it on others by force or by law, then we get annoyed. Can't think of a religious nation where that's true, can you?

          "You fools fail to even have a single tolerant and respectable bone in your bodies. Far be it for me to interfere when you find out the hard way muslims weren't kidding when the said they would kill all the infidels and bring you the gift of Sharia Law."

          Ah, you show your colours. And you say WE'RE not tolerant. Gonna go out a limb here and say you were a Trump voter, right? Mad as hell and want your country back?

      4. ChrisBedford

        Re: Maybe

        A country [Americans] mostly populated by the descendants of people 'fleeing religious persecution'

        Religious persecution? Really? So starvation, wanderlust, adventure, or anything like that played no significant part in the population of the country?

        Seriously, dude, that's like saying Australia is "mostly" populated by ex-cons.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Maybe

          "Religious persecution? Really? So starvation, wanderlust, adventure, or anything like that played no significant part in the population of the country?"

          Well, it was usually persecution of SOME sort that drove them: religious, political, or economic, and it applied a lot during the American expansion. Irish immigrants and the like moved west to Kentucky and so on in response to the Whiskey Rebellion (political persecution--taxes). A lot of the Mountain Men were escaping past lives or trying to make a living when there was none back home (economic). Many were fugitives escaping prosecution. A lot were being enticed by offers (many of the wagon trains were formed for this, and there was the Homestead Act).

          Wanderlust and the like probably enticed some people, but the vast bulk of immigrants and pioneers had simpler motives: either a reason to go somewhere or a reason NOT to stay home.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "But it still doesn't explain Americans."

      But the entire purpose of evolution (more properly named Intelligent Design) was to arrive at the ultimate and most nearly perfect of God's creations. I blush modestly and take a bow.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Boffin

    God of the gaps / Special pleading in, 10, 9 8.....

    Meanwhile: Go science!

  11. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    What is a created kind?

    Central to creationalism is the idea that a deity created certain kinds of animal. There can be no new kinds, and although selective breeding can cause variations in a kind, it is not possible for one kind to diverge into multiple kinds.

    Where is the list of kinds?

    1. Ross Nixon

      Re: What is a created kind?

      The list of kinds? They are working on it. It is a protoscience, called Baraminology.

      Here is one creationist scientific investigation, as an example to the curious and/or open-minded. https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/red-wolf-species-classification-affirms-biblical-creation-puzzles-evolutionists/

      1. PassiveSmoking

        Re: What is a created kind?

        It is a pseudoscience, called Baraminology

        FTFY

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is a created kind?

      "Where is the list of kinds?"

      Glad you asked - I've got it right here. It's awfully long though - oh, wait - this is my Enemies List. Guess I can cross off Castro.

  12. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The saddest part in this is that a larger and larger segment of society has not been taught or has objected to the concept of "critical thinking". It would seem that with the way the Religious Right has been blossoming that the US could be headed (or maybe we're there and don't know it yet) towards a Christian-based type of fanaticism similar to the Islamic types.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      "...larger segment of society has not been taught or has objected to the concept of "critical thinking"..."

      Interestingly it was the exact opposite for me. When I was studying for ministry I was actually encouraged to think critically and to question. I suppose when you are meant to have confidence and faith then questioning holds no fear. Though it was the critical thinking that led me to leave....

    2. Patrician

      ....." larger and larger segment of society has not been taught or has objected to the concept of "critical thinking"..."

      I don't know about the US but here in the UK the education system seems to have, slowly and surely, changed; it used to be that schools would teach students how to learn, how to evaluate different ideas and come to a conclusion, how to investigate etc. basically how to learn.

      Now it seems that our schools are producing ready for the production line sheeple; these have just enough "education" to be able to read the Daily Fail (so they can be told what they think) and be able to push the buttons at their station on the production line in the right order.

      I can't remember who it was but I do remember hearing one of out MP's making a statement somewhere along the lines of "we need our schools to produce people that are ready for work"..

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        push the buttons on the phone and talk bollocks to people at the call-centre

        Is more apropriate..

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Professor Donald Trefusis FTW

        Stephen Fry did a very splendid and worthwhile rant in about 1985, in the persona of his character "Professor Donald Trefusis", on the R4 programme "Loose Ends", fulminating against the then current emphasis on "training" rather than "education".

        Ah... here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZnFVSDZNgo

        (Having listened again) Crikey o'blimey, that was good. And IIRC it's when he was hoovering up vast quantities of South American pick-me-ups.

    3. Kiwi Silver badge

      The saddest part in this is that a larger and larger segment of society has not been taught or has objected to the concept of "critical thinking". It would seem that with the way the Religious Right has been blossoming that the US could be headed (or maybe we're there and don't know it yet) towards a Christian-based type of fanaticism similar to the Islamic types.

      Not sure if what they have for "Religious" over there could be called "right". For that matter, even here a lot of the "religious right" seem to be stuck on a religion that worships money (and money makers in the case of our soon-to-be former PM!). It certainly is scary what still goes on in the name of our Lord... He who said "Love your neighbour" and "treat them as you'd want them to treat you" seems to be most quoted by those who want their neighbour to burn for eternity (I don't believe in "eternal hell") and are more than willing to help them get there.

      What is over there is not Christ.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ..towards a Christian-based type of fanaticism similar to the Islamic types.

      Not my experience, and I doubt that it holds for most Christians. For the people I know, religion is ultimately a code on how to treat your fellow man. Most aren't that concerned about evolution, or believe everything in the bible is to be taken literally, or is any way a religious fanatic. Of course, there is always a small fanatical element - and that is the element that always draws the attention and publicity precisely because they are outside the norm.

  13. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Its not just the creationists

    CNN reported at the weekend about a fire where a concrete statue of jesus survived. This was taken as a miracle: concrete not burning!! Oh and 11 people died. Fucking miracle.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Its not just the creationists

      CNN reported at the weekend about a fire where a concrete statue of jesus survived. This was taken as a miracle: concrete not burning!! Oh and 11 people died. Fucking miracle.

      - Well that just proves the non-existence of a god. He failed to ensure non-flamability - should have made man from concrete rather than just mud/clay/earth.

      Even sofas get better quality control...intelligent design, my arse.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Its not just the creationists

        Why would a God whose main weapon is smiting, you know, lightning bolts and fireballs, design a fireproof being to smite against?

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Its not just the creationists

          Why would a God whose main weapon is smiting, you know, lightning bolts and fireballs, design a fireproof being to smite against?

          I think you are confusing Judeo/Christianity with the classical Greek Gods by way as Prattchett. I seem to remember only plagues and Angels from the bible (only thing was set fire to was a bush, apart from the bits about not liking fun cities, only one of which had a sexual deviance named for it).

          Unless you are laying the blame for alleged 'spontaneous human combustion' at the door of Jehova.

          No reason a truly omnipotent being could not have some sort of 'super' fire to smite should he so choose) while still ensuring his creation didn't get toasted while trying to stay warm because the fur thickness he provided them with is sub-par at best.

          1. Mooseman Bronze badge

            Re: Its not just the creationists

            " Jehova"

            *throws rock*

          2. oldcoder

            Re: Its not just the creationists

            you left out earthquakes (or whatever destroyed the walls of Jericho) --- and that "pillar of salt" thing. And whatever happened to Sodom and Gomorrah...

            1. Teiwaz Silver badge

              Re: Its not just the creationists

              you left out earthquakes (or whatever destroyed the walls of Jericho) --- and that "pillar of salt" thing.

              - I think an episode of Ancient Aliens covered that...acoustic weapons apparently...

              And whatever happened to Sodom and Gomorrah...

              - I'v always suspected the ruins are either off the present coast or at the bottom of the Dead Sea (if they exist, or the source of the legend at least) - Unless they moved to the Caribbean and become rebranded as Hedonism2...

              ..Oh, right,(that, whatever happend to...) according to Ancient Aliens, Atomics, which explains Lots wife being mineralised. Damn more than a mere thunderbolt or RPG style fireball at any rate.

              I don't really believe in the whole Ancient Alien thing either, but the questions are fascinating, even if the answers are dubious.

              Most of the early Bible is based on Assyrian myths, Genesis mostly, even the god name is thought now to come from a region south of the region between egypt and Babylon.

      2. Scroticus Canis
        Devil

        Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

        More like spiteful design when one considers haemorrhoids.

        Even if He made designed man in his own image he could surely have left this bit out!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

          Is that Jesus's middle name?

          1. Faceless Man

            Re: Is that Jesus's middle name?

            I thought it was "Haploid".

        2. BongoJoe

          Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

          And the appendix.

          Furthermore; why the nipples?

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

          More to the point, the blind spot in the back of the eye where light sensitive nerves evolved into the eyeball is not any kind of intelligent design. Neither is the appendix, a vestigial organ that serves no purpose, but sometimes kills us.

          And thinking about it, if genitalia had been designed with intelligence they'd surely be somewhere more convenient.

          1. cambsukguy

            Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

            The Duck-billed Platypus has a Cloaca, very obviously an evolutionary precursor to the human females' twin orifices 'down there'.

            I think, with Darwin and Dawkins and all the others in between, we have a good, solid road to reason as far as Evolution goes.

            Even my Born-again Baptist ex believes in Evolution.

            Now, if only we could persuade a few million holdouts that Hillary Clinton didn't run a Paedophile sex ring out of a Pizza joint.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

              I think, with Darwin and Dawkins and all the others in between, we have a good, solid road to reason as far as Evolution goes.

              From Dawkins' The River Out of Eden 1995 pp 7-8

              There are now perhaps thirty million branches to the river of DNA, for that is an estimate of the number of species on earth… Today’s thirty million rivers are irrevocably separate.

              Emphasis mine. If species are irrevocably separate as Dawkins states, then there is no possibility of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or hybridisation for that matter.

          2. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Its not just the creationists ...intelligent design, my arse.

            if genitalia had been designed with intelligence they'd surely be somewhere more convenient.
            I once saw a play where Satan claimed to have invented sex. Satan said that God had intended to make everyone by hand until he came up with the idea of reproduction.

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Its not just the creationists

      CNN reported at the weekend about a fire where a concrete statue of jesus survived. This was taken as a miracle: concrete not burning!! Oh and 11 people died. Fucking miracle.

      I'm guessing that was something catholic? Not exactly shining examples of Christianity!

      Besides, wouldn't that show that Jesus is a witch? Wasn't the final test the burning at the stake - if you survived you were guiilty if you burnt you were innocent? Or was that just drowing? (So chuck the statue in the water, did it drown? No? Must be a witch then!)

      I would not class this as a miracle, not just because of the loss of life. Those who do deserve derision.

  14. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Truthiness

    God ( irony intended) help us! But we seem to have entered a period when "truth" is a matter of personal preference. Why that might be we can only speculate. Poor understanding of evidence and scientific thinking in an age when education has returned to mechanical teach-and-test rather developing thinking from first principles is one of my best guesses. Another is that our populations have become so used to being lied to that we just choose the versions we prefer from a menu. Or maybe it's that the truth is just too awful to cope with.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: Truthiness

      > Why that might be we can only speculate.

      I see it as 'SantaClausism'. They have been brought up, or brought themselves up, to hope for a 'present' (to 'be with Jesus' or '24 virgins' or some such) at the end, as long as they believe and keep The Faith.

      'The Faith' manifests itself in many different ways, which is why there are thousands of different religions or variations of those religions, and even of personal choices (such as 'I don't believe in "eternal hell"'). People choose 'The Truth' that they want to believe in. This also leads directly to discarding the inconvenient 'items' that tend to show their 'The Truth' as not being actually true.

      Ironically, this leads to evolution of religion and of theology. New species of religions arise and old ones become extinct* on a frequent basis. Existing ones change and decry their past, or attempt to hide it. Survival or Revival ? Fittest or Richest ? Is this a natural phenomena or are the various 'gods' pushing and poking to create and destroy.

      If you are a creationist and think that others are deriding your beliefs, it is because many put you in the same category as Flat Earthers, UFOlogists and Alchemists.

      * In the distant past each society held their leader as being their 'God', in some cases only after death did they become a God (such as the Roman emperors and Kim Jong-il), in other cases they were living Gods (such as Hirohito or the Egyptian Pharaohs). When the next leader succeeded the previous he often became the new deity, though in a dynasty it may have taken some time to replace the previous deities. It seems that the Hebrew kept their [new] deity because they had made a contract with that particular one and replacing him would invalidate the promise of some land. Claims about what 'gods' could do and what they had done was mythology and mere puffery and was passed to the next set of gods in that society. Even Hindus are divided about which gods are the creators and which are the destroyers.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell
        Alien

        Re: Truthiness

        " ...same category as Flat Earthers, UFOlogists and Alchemists."

        Nah mate. Flat Earthers are (surely) a self aware parody, UFOlogists have some evidence to support them claim and seek more evidence, and alchemy was a proto-science that eventually became part of a science that we call chemistry.

        Creationists can't lay claim to any of that.

  15. TRT Silver badge

    WWJD?

    I do have a bit of a problem with the old intelligent design argument. I mean, wouldn't it be much more fun to make a mechanism that randomly chucks out stuff that is then tried against a wide range of scenarios, and the best survivor gets to mutate again and the progeny tested? I mean, that kind of throws the design element out of the window. It's like putting AI bots into a maze - the one that gets to the end zone first gets two new bots with nearly identical programming / build released from the start of the maze.

    Way more fun than trying to design the best thing from the word go. Especially if you're wondering, will these maze bots ever reach a state where they begin to ask questions about who or what created and programmed them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WWJD?

      Something tells me you'll really enjoy this game: Talos Principle.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: WWJD?

        Talos Principle

        - I don't think I've seen that Original Star Trek episode...

        (Icon: closest I could get to the creepy dummy from 'The Corbomite Manouver')

  16. EricM

    Why try to 'convince' creationists?

    There is already tons of evidence these guys are plain wrong. Some people simply want to believe instead of knowing. That's OK, let the ignorants stay ignorant. BUT we need to reduce the tolerance of our societiy against this kind of stupitidy. Especially organized stupidity dressed as religion. Teach the kids science and ban religion of all kinds from schools. And then let them make up their minds.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

      There is already tons of evidence these guys are plain wrong. Some people simply want to believe instead of knowing. That's OK, let the ignorants stay ignorant. BUT we need to reduce the tolerance of our societiy against this kind of stupitidy. Especially organized stupidity dressed as religion. Teach the kids science and ban religion of all kinds from schools. And then let them make up their minds.

      Evidence and proof are different things. Your own post is evidence that you're someone who "simply want to believe instead of knowing." and someone who will remain ignorance.

      I would love to see more critical thinking taught in schools, especially around science. Then the students would make up their own mind and the myth of evolution would die as it should've done millenia ago (what, you think Darwin was the first?). We will finally be rid of this stupid organised religion called "evolution" that is taught in our schools.

      Oh.. As I've alluded to in other posts in recent days, I once was very much anti-Christian. One of the things that has led me to where I am today is spending time reading scientific material and using my own eyes and mind and actually thinking about what I have read, what does and doesn't add up. That God made everything in a relatively recent time frame has come out on top again and again for me, and for some of that time it was not what I wanted, for a long time I would've loved Evolution to be true!

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

        > Your own post is evidence that you're someone who "simply want to believe instead of knowing." and someone who will remain ignorance.

        How ironic can you get ?

        > (what, you think Darwin was the first?).

        A common mistake, usually by creationists, is to claim that Darwin wrote a 'theory of evolution'. He did not. Evolution was well accepted as a process for decades before Darwin. His theory was about _how_ evolution occurred, or at least about how one part of it occurred. Other theories about the process preceded Darwin, such as Lamarck's. Other mechanisms include 'sexual selection'.

        > We will finally be rid of this stupid organised religion called "evolution"

        Evolution is a process that is observable. It is observable in the universe, it is observable in the fossil record, it is observable in this experiment. You probably equate "this stupid organised religion" with 'Darwinism' or even 'Neo-Darwinism' which is a discussion about how some of the processes operate. You are perfectly welcome to argue that 'selection is not natural' as long as you can bring some actual evidence. You can also argue that 'humans do not have a common ancestor with other monkeys' but you would have to show why all the evidence for this is wrong.

        > I would love to see more critical thinking taught in schools

        You might like to try some of this yourself. Religion is not just 'Christian (creationism)' versus 'Neo-Darwinism'. There are thousands of different religions, and many variations within each of those. It is instructive to study a few of them and to contemplate their origins. For example Rastarianism (which I studied because my grandfather had been presented with a Lion Skin Cape in 1922 by Ras Tafari). This originated as a black power movement in the Caribbean after the English abolished slavery and the plantations had to import indentured Indians (mostly Hindu) as workers. It is a mix of Voodoo from the African ex-slaves, local West Indies native religions, imposed Christianity and various Hindu imports, such as hemp.

        The study of the formation of religions should show, through the application of _actual_ 'critical thinking', rather than merely being critical, that they are a human mechanism designed to impose the will of the leader(s) upon the society they wish to create and/or rule over. In some sense the societies have evolved due to the religions. Those not belonging to the majority religion, or the most aggressive religion, in a society were 'selected away*' by banishment, persecution, wars, or genocide. This created cohesive cultures which could be classed as 'civilisation', but generally was not 'civil'.

        Human thought has also evolved in many places, where we were able to avoid being persecuted by the various religions. The religions are still fighting back against this evolving of thought into science, they still want their dogma to rule.

        > That God made everything in a relatively recent time frame has come out on top again and again for me,

        And that puts you in the same class as the flat-earthers and alchemists.

        * the basis of Darwin is not so much 'selection of the fittest', but its corollary: de-selection of the less fit, or of those that couldn't escape from the fittest.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

        > I would love to see more critical thinking taught in schools, especially around science. Then the students would make up their own mind and the myth of evolution would die as it should've done millenia ago (what, you think Darwin was the first?).

        Can you provide any data to support your claim?

    2. Bernard M. Orwell

      Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

      "Teach the kids science and ban religion of all kinds from schools"

      I'd not ban religion from schools, but have it taught instead as social studies and as history. Religion, in both those guises, is an important part of our culture and understanding culture, both your own and that of others, is an important starting point for any consideration of world politics or for understanding the needs of the "other". Understanding religion and its social function (for good and bad) is needed to begin to comprehend philosophy and reason: You have to know where thinking goes wrong.

      If we do away with religion, we do away with so much history, culture, music, literature and drama that we'd pauper ourselves as a society in the process.

      My objection is when religion is taught as a paramount truth, over-riding science or reason in favour of blind obedience to dogma (see: Faith).

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

        "Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!"

        Fair comment, it's the "young earth" creationist sub-cult that's really the issue here. The morons who believe the Earth is only a few millennia old.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

        If we do away with religion, we do away with so much history, culture, music, literature and drama that we'd pauper ourselves as a society in the process.

        My objection is when religion is taught as a paramount truth, over-riding science or reason in favour of blind obedience to dogma (see: Faith).

        Thanks for the post. And yes, we'd lose much of the culture if we took away the bits we don't like. I'm a Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Manson fan.. I pretty much cried for a week when Lemmy died.. If we lost the parts of our cultures that I don't like, we'd necessarily lose much of the music I love.

        As to your last line, I do agree. I do not support "blind obedience" and spend a lot of time questioning and challenging both the beliefs of the church and even the content of the Bible. The Bible teaches that "iron sharpens iron", and to test and prove all things. If we don't question our faith and our understanding of principles, we cannot learn the truth of them and worse, we cannot learn when we are wrong.

        May faith is strong because I've taken time to prove it.

        1. smartypants

          Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

          "May faith is strong because I've taken time to prove it."

          Presumably that meant checking on the age of the earth by adding up the ages of all those blokes in the start of the bible for yourself.

          Who was the geezer who waited 850 years before having kids? I forget.

          Anyway. It must be true because somebody wrote it in a book, so PROOF ACCEPTED!

          1. IT Poser

            Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

            >> Who was the geezer who waited 850 years before having kids?

            It doesn't matter. No one waited 850 years before having kids. It was 850 moons mistranslated. I know because god spoke* to me from a burning bush.

            * Assuming you allow some poetic license in the use of spoke. From my seat at the bonfire the moon rise was easily visible. We used clippings from the hedge that the city hadn't picked up for over a month, despite three collection dates having passed, to get the fire going. Why to conversation turned to the begots, I'll never know, but the timing was good.

        2. Dagg
          FAIL

          Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

          If we do away with religion, we do away with so much history, culture, music, literature and drama that we'd pauper ourselves as a society in the process.

          @Kiwi, we have done that all ready! As far as you are concerned the ONLY religion that is acceptable is Christianity. What about all the followers of other religions that the Christians have either killed or converted. They have lost their history, culture, music, literature and drama. Or, is it just that their history etc is not valid and that only your god is valid and everything else is wrong.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

            What about all the followers of other religions that the Christians have either killed or converted.
            The problem isn't so much Christians slaughtering the followers of other religions as slaughtering the heretics within their own. Roman Catholics versus Protestants for example. Note here there are some 32,000 different sects in Christianity. Muslims mainly follow two flavours of Islam: Sunni and Shi'ite and they cheerfully slaughter each other. Then there are the peace-loving atheists like Joe Stalin who slaughtered 10 (or was it 20?) million for strictly rational and atheistic reasons. So it goes...

          2. Bernard M. Orwell

            Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

            "If we do away with religion, we do away with so much history, culture, music, literature and drama that we'd pauper ourselves as a society in the process.

            @Kiwi, we have done that all ready!"

            to be fair, Dagg, that was my post not Kiwi's. I'm an atheist, but not an anti-theist, and I can't imagine being iconoclastic in the name of atheism as being of any use to society. Christianity, as a whole, had a tendancy to absorb cultures it came to dominate, unlike certain others that, even now, are trying to bury past cultures that "offend" their "sensibilities".

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

        In the US, religion is not taught in public schools. It is considered a family matter and taught at home or in church.

        That being said: In St Louis, where the Catholic church has a strong system of schools, many parents have opted to have their children attend the Catholic schools because of the incredibly poor public school system. I imagine that is the case in many other American cities. My daughter attended one of those schools. According to her school's magazine, for her class every member of her class went on to college and all qualified for scholarships of some sort. I have a feeling that most of those who have been disparaging religious people as stupid and/or ignorant wouldn't stack up very well against people with this kind of education.

      4. EricM

        Re: have it taught instead as social studies and as history.

        You are right, that is how Religions are already studied and taught in Sociology. That is indeed an important aspect, teaching effects of religions. However, writing this from Germany, we still "teach" -believing- a religion in schools over here, the "teacher" is often a Priest, the pupils in a class are separated by confessions for this "lessons". That practice should stop.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

      The issue I have is that the 'creationists/ID' take over the management of school districts in the USA and virtuall ban the works of Darwin etc overnight. Anything that does not fit with their idea of life and how it began is given the 'Farenheit 451' treatment (itself banned in many parts of the USA)

      These are the sort of people who voted for Trump.

      Anyone who raises their head above the parapet and disagree with then is labelled a commie.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

      "There is already tons of evidence these guys are plain wrong."

      There is also evidence - or at least debate - that the theory as propounded by Darwin is wrong in some at some least respects. I'm thinking specifically about gradual change over long periods.

      Intelligent people know that almost always the verdict is still out and that reasonable people can disagree without trying to silence each other.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

        > There is also evidence - or at least debate - that the theory as propounded by Darwin is wrong in some at some least respects. I'm thinking specifically about gradual change over long periods.

        That is because Darwin's 'natural selection' is not the only process happening, and this was recognised by Darwin. He also saw that there was 'sexual selection' as a process that would operate over long time periods. It is not that "Darwin is wrong in some at some least respects", it is that other processes _also_ occur.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

          @Richard Phinston

          I was thinking of the fact that we have examples where the process seems to have happened quite quickly - sort of a biological equivalent of geology's catastrophism.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

            Pigeons. The characteristics of pigeons evolve relatively quickly. When London's sooty atmosphere was at its worst they were much darker, to provide camouflage against blackened buildings.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Why try to 'convince' creationists?

              When London's sooty atmosphere was at its worst they were much darker, to provide camouflage against blackened buildings.
              Much like Kettlewell's famed peppered moths? Most of us probably can recall from biology class being taught how peppered moths developed a dark form in response to industrial pollution to protect themselves against predation by birds. Dark moths being harder to see against the blackened tree trunks.

              Unfortunately, Kettlewell made it all up. Peppered moths are nocturnal and spend their days hidden in crevices on the underside of tree branches. The picture of the two forms, light and dark made a wonderful cover for Scientific American, but it was posed. Both forms, light and dark, existed before the industrial revolution. But it's good "story".

              I believe the main predators are bats and owls.

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    There is a clear historical instance of a new species being created by natural processes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartina_anglica

    Species with extended geographical ranges can have infertility between the populations at the ends of the distribution most clearly demonstrated by ring species where the population extends round some obstructive feature and where the two "ends" have met up and do not interbreed. Such populations could be split into two species by exterminating it in the middle part of the range. The obvious ethical considerations prevent this as a deliberate experiment but it could happen as a consequence of human interference with the environment for economic purposes.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > Such populations could be split into two species

      There are many examples of this. For example House Sparrows in America. They were introduced into the east coast and spread across the continent. The west coast sparrows are now incapable of interbreeding with the east coast population and are thus a different species, but are classed as a sub-species.

  18. John 110
    FAIL

    Wonderful...

    ...because creating new species of virus in the lab is a great idea! Has nobody here played Resident Evil?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Wonderful...

      ...because creating new species of virus in the lab is a great idea! Has nobody here played Resident Evil?

      - It's the 'mad' scientists not having played Resident Evil we have to be concerned about.

      Although I'm quite sure there are at least a few 'mad scientists' or potential ones here on the reg comments, just waiting for their patience to wear out or their grudge against the modern world to get big enough.

  19. Florida1920

    The standard argument

    I get from creationists is, "a dog can't become a cat." They might be persuaded if the bacterium evolved into a laser-wielding shark, but probably would just come up with another way to deny the science.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: The standard argument

      "a dog can't become a cat."

      - Show 'em, the Monty Python Pet Shop sketch (no not the Parrot one) - If a terrier can become a bird or a goldfish...

  20. Kiwi Silver badge
    FAIL

    You are kidding, right?

    As a read-a-nit-of-biology Creationist Christian, I could've told you that this is a possible, even probably result.

    There's nothing in El Reg's article that comes close to the sort of genetic changes needed to go from one life form (eg cat) to another (eg dog).

    I'd be willing to bet that the two forms of virii could even interbreed - except that IIRC virii cannot "breed" per se, and need a host to allow that.

    It's a big hurdle, and still to be passed. This is an outcome expected within normal and previous observed levels of variation within a normal species. Along the same lines as when one of my cats had kittens, where they had different colour patterns despite same parents, or where one kitten could not handle certain foods while another from the same litter loved them.

    1. Mooseman Bronze badge

      but that's the basic flaw with your understanding of evolution - why would a cat become a dog ?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        but that's the basic flaw with your understanding of evolution - why would a cat become a dog ?

        Oh boy.. If you can't grasp the concept of examples then it's no wonder you believe in evolution!

        Oh, and, given what should be possible with evolution, why would a dog or cat not be able to evolve into the other? Given the right environmental pressures etc... Or do you think cats would only evolve into rather vain human-like creatures, over oh.. 3 million years in space or so?

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          New form of Wookee defence?

          Or do you think cats would only evolve into rather vain human-like creatures, over oh.. 3 million years in space or so?

          - In such a case, I think it might evolve into something that had opposable thumbs in order to operate the tin opener...

          As with the varience of colours in your litter of kittens, you are confusing character with species. Plenty of human siblings don't share the same hair colour / skin type / eye colour as either their siblings or parents.

          This whole dog to cat thing smacks of the last Creationist argument I had to lisiten to, the one about half an eyeball.

          At least something is evolving in the minds of the creationists, the complexity of their complex mind-games to muddy the waters.

    2. Steve Martins

      dogs cannot become cats

      Adhering precisely to the (now accepted as irrefutable fact) process of evolution, you cannot get from Dog to cat, because each represents a local maxima of the environment. Think wave peaks on the ocean, each represents a local idealised state - evolution will take the DNA towards a peak every time, but to go from Dog to Cat, you would have to move away from a local maxima, and survival of the fittest would eradicate those furthest from a peak (where the environment has scare resource). If there are no resource scarcities then the unfittest (e.g. fat americans) don't get eradicated. Its nice to know that there is now experimental evidence allowing evolution to go from being a scientific theory (experimentally shown to be accurate and peer reviewed for professional consensus) to fact (actually demonstrated in a lab)

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: dogs cannot become cats

        Adhering precisely to the (now accepted as irrefutable fact) process of evolution,

        Actually, by a huge number of people including thousands of respected scientists, it's not. Many don't even consider it as possible. And it clearly still lacks the experimental and actual observation as proof. Widely accepted as fact by many, yes. Proven as fact, or irrefutable? Far from.

        you cannot get from Dog to cat, because each represents a local maxima of the environment.

        Yet if evolution is true, then it must be possible for the descendants of my cat (or my dog) to, over time, become something that is identical to the other.

        Its nice to know that there is now experimental evidence allowing evolution to go from being a scientific theory (experimentally shown to be accurate and peer reviewed for professional consensus) to fact (actually demonstrated in a lab)

        As I said earlier, watching my cat have kittens as a kid could've told me what these scientists just worked out. My cats didn't just have a preference for different foods, they even had different coloured coats!

        Others here who are evolutionists also have issues with the supposed "proof" in this test. It's not even close, and is so far from proof that even evolutionists are denying it is so! (not saying they deny evolution, just that this specific example is any proof).

        In fact, while the specific results may not have been obvious, the nature of them should've been. There's no surprise in there for any one who has any experience breeding animals.

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: dogs cannot become cats

          Dogs can't become cats, eh?

          So...whats a Hyena then? Dog or Cat? Or some sub-species hybridisation arising from the Felix genus but possessing Canine traits due to specialist evolution arising from its environment?

          1. Bernard M. Orwell

            Re: dogs cannot become cats

            "May faith is strong because I've taken time to prove it"

            You can't prove faith. By its very nature it demands acceptance; the certain and sure knowledge of the resurrection and the peace of god in one's heart.

            I'm your opposite number, I think. I was a devout, born-again Methodist preacher until I realised it was all complete nonsense and embraced reason, logic and the scientific method as being more worthwhile ways of examining the universe. I still think there is a "spiritual" angle to existence, arising from my study of philosophy (I don't believe we know everything, and have little doubt that some of the things we do not know will be beyond our current comprehension), but I refute the existence of any higher power due to a lack of evidence.

            Creationists, in my experience, have a habit of refuting evidence in favour of belief whilst failing to present any evidence themselves, which is a highly flawed and illogical approach to understanding.

            I note that you, as with many Christians, revert to biblical knowledge to support your viewpoint, but I have to ask which version of the bible you use, and which revision of that version? How did you reach the decision that your choice of version and revision is the "correct" one?

            One of the straws on this camels back, for me, was the simple posit that religion is the acceptance that the truth can be found by reading one book alone as a substitute for enquiry...

            ""iron sharpens iron". No, it does not. Bang two bits of iron together and you get blunt iron. You need a whetstone to sharpen iron.

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: dogs cannot become cats

              > the certain and sure knowledge of the resurrection and the peace of god in one's heart.

              That is one particular faith, and not a generally held one by all 'Faiths'*.

              * being restricted to Christians and derivatives, and not all Christians either.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: dogs cannot become cats

                There are, of course, those Christians who believe in predetermination, on Earth and in Heaven. i.e. If you are one of the "elect" you will prosper on Earth and then go to Heaven - or if not, not. Presbyterian among others. As I understand it Roman Catholics also have a version of this, in that their Church says they are predetermined, but that you can not tell in this life. How that relates to good and evil behaviour exceeded my ability to comprehend - ( especially since I only read that bit out of idle curiosity).

        2. Steve Martins

          Re: dogs cannot become cats

          Technically, yes, many generations down the line you could end up with a dog-like animal which has the heritage of a cat, its DNA would still be cat, and it would retain cat-like aspects and wouldn't be identical - it would reach a local maxima that makes it fit for purpose to the environment. I'm only going by the facts i know, of people who modify genes for a job, build gene sequences one nucleotide at a time, who use reproduction experiments to track the propagation of an altered genetic sequence through generations. Also having researched genetic algorithms for solving complex polynomial problems with multiple solutions - every time a genetic solving approach is far more powerful than a design process. Its as astounding to me that people don't believe in evolution as it is that there are some people who still believe the earth is flat. The research and information is all out there if you take the time to look at it and understand it.

        3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: dogs cannot become cats

          > Yet if evolution is true, then it must be possible for the descendants of my cat (or my dog) to, over time, become something that is identical to the other.

          It is certainly true that, over a long time (millions of years), descendants of one particular type of animal can become something quite different. It is unlikely, however, that descendant lines of two dissimilar species become 'identical', and no theory about evolution ever claims that they would. That, however, rests on what you imagine 'identical' to be. Some descendants of a dog may eventually become 'cat like' in appearance and behaviour. Some descendants of a cat may become 'dog like' given enough time and an environment where that would be an advantage. To be 'identical' would imply the ability to interbreed and have viable offspring that could continue the line. That is not a factor of evolution, but one of genetics.

          In fact cats and dogs have been shown to be able to evolve into different appearance and behaviour within recent history. It may have been by 'unnatural selection', ie breeding by humans, but this is not much different in process than would happen in the wild, it is just that the outcomes are different. Originally there were wolves and wildcats, now through evolution (directed by human selection rather than 'natural') we have dog and cats that are domesticated and tailored to our needs or wants.

          A few tens of millions of years ago our mammal ancestors were small shrew like creatures, as is observable in the fossil record. Over those intervening aeons evolution has changed those into the forms that mammals now encompass.

          You want to ignore the evidence and evolution of thought and claim 'that never happened'. Fine, but that is the definition of ignorance.

        4. IT Poser

          Re: dogs cannot become cats

          http://www.carealotpets.com/dog-breeds-ukc-catahoulaleoparddog.aspx

          A few hundred more generations with the right selection criteria and this breed could easily become much more cat-like. The pictured example already has more cat-like chest musculature and a shorter snout than my dog. Granted the dog will still be a dog and not a cat but the traits will be fairly similar.

          A good example is the ancestors or modern monkeys, the same ones that lead to humans like you, that followed an evolutionary path to become bird-like. Despite being able to fly and have very light-weight bone structures bats are not birds.

      2. Florida1920

        Re: dogs cannot become cats

        Adhering precisely to the (now accepted as irrefutable fact) process of evolution, you cannot get from Dog to cat, because each represents a local maxima of the environment.

        Yeah, Steve. But you can't use words like "irrefutable fact" or "local maxima of the environment" with creationists. Because Genesis. Another favorite argument is, "If [$deity] did not create me then I have no moral value etc etc. Before you can break through to creationists you have to destroy their ego attachment. You might as well try to train a cat to bark.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: dogs cannot become cats

          > You might as well try to train a cat to bark.

          I think that I have seen that on Youtube, certainly one quite clearly said 'hello', and another: "no, no, no" (see Russell Howard).

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: dogs cannot become cats

            You might as well try to train a cat to bark
            To turn a cat into a dog, soak in petrol and set fire: woof!

            To turn a dog into a cat, put dog in deep freeze until well-frozen. Put dog through bandsaw: meeeow!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: dogs cannot become cats

        Actually his transition was achieved in Oxford laboratories in early 60's. Unfortunately this early success has never be replicated as the test subject ate the expermental data ...

  21. mix

    Better use it while I can...

    Would you Adam and Eve it? (This cockney rhyming slang may have borrowed time.)

    Scientific and replicatable proof of evolution still not enough for blinkered masses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better use it while I can...

      The Creationists just stick their fingers in their ears. Or block you on twitter. Or in the case of the crazy Ark guy (Aigenkamp?) just keep talking the same bollocks.

      But unlike the Chemtrailers, and Moon landing deniers they are probably funding schools (and Arks) to perpetuate their nonsense

  22. DrXym Silver badge

    Another nail in the coffin?

    At this point there are more nails than wood. The problem is that creationists (and denialists of other kinds) are extremely adept at ignoring overwhelming evidence that contradicts their deeply held beliefs.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Another nail in the coffin?

      . The problem is that creationists (and denialists of other kinds) are extremely adept at ignoring overwhelming evidence that contradicts their deeply held beliefs.

      When you come up with some real science (observable/provable/testable) rather than circular reasoning and "just so" stories that change day-by-day I might be enticed to believe. Maybe you should try taking your blinkers off and looking at reality? You might find the clearly over-whelming evidence DOESN'T support evolution!

      (Personally, I hate blind faith and encourage Christians I know to spend some time looking into science as well, to confirm and strengthen their faith. Blind faith soon runs into a wall, whereas proven faith (which is what IIRC Paul said to do - test and prove these things) finds a way around or through said wall, or avoids it completely)

      1. Mark C 2

        @Kiwi

        So you have taken the time to *prove your belief that the fossil record is a result of Animal/Pant material being covered rapidly:

        "Er, what's with this "planting fossils" nonsense? Fossils are the remains of plants or animals (or fish or whatever..) that once lived on the earth, but were rapidly buried at some stage a few thousand years ago."

        The geological record, plate tectonics, rates of sedimentary rock deposition, radio carbon dating and other repeatable measurement methods all suggest that fossils are tens / hundreds of millions of years old and the earth is far older. What convinced you that the earth is just a few thousand years old? Was it the Ussher chronology or do you have some other research material? Am interested in case I have been reading the wrong sources.

        Do you accept that the Cosmos is ~13.5 billion years old or is it only a few thousand years old like the Earth is?

        Of the (roughly) 1000 religious systems around the world today is yours the only one that offers the Truth?

        *evidence or argument establishing a fact or the truth of a statement.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Another nail in the coffin?

        "When you come up with some real science (observable/provable/testable) rather than circular reasoning and "just so" stories that change day-by-day I might be enticed to believe."

        Er what?

        Evolution refers to genetic change through generations of species. Evolution is a fact since we can see it happening and test it. We can even cause such as by selectively breeding plants or animals for some trait. Try looking at the ancient form of a cabbage some time.

        It can be observed in the wild in populations divided over islands, and in response to changes in habitat. It can be observed in the fossil record. It can be observed in the lab such as Lenski's long term evolution experiment on bacteria where isolated strains have evolved novel traits. It can be observed in fruit flies and other fast breeding species.

        Evolution is tested every time a a fossil comes out of the ground and conspicuously isn't a chimera or animal that should not exist in its geological strata. It is tested and validated by fossils that have observable gradations of form including intermediates. It is tested by DNA analysis - Darwin didn't even know there was such a thing - yet it's exactly in agreement with the theory.

        So no, there is no circular reasoning. Evolution is a fact and a theory. Anyone in disagreement is ignorant and/or a fool.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Another nail in the coffin?

          So no, there is no circular reasoning. Evolution is a fact and a theory. Anyone in disagreement is ignorant and/or a fool.
          Fact = Something that has really occurred or is actually the case (OED)

          Theory = A scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts (OED)

          Your schema that "fact = theory" would appear to be self-referential (circular reasoning).

        2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Another nail in the coffin?

          > Evolution is a fact and a theory.

          It may well be that Darwin is referred to as 'The theory of evolution by natural selection', but this does not mean that "Evolution is a theory": It means that "evolution by natural selection" is a theory about a mechanism of evolution. Evolution is an observable fact. It may occur by many different means, or all at the same time, such as sexual selection, or by Lamarck's Acquired Characteristics (now deprecated), or by various other means.

          > Anyone in disagreement is ignorant and/or a fool.

          I disagree with your statement, but it is you that is the "ignorant and/or a fool".

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Another nail in the coffin?

            Lamarck's Acquired Characteristics (now deprecated)
            Were deprecated; now renamed "epigenetics".
            In recent years, scientists have discovered that epigenetic changes–heritable changes that do not alter the sequence of DNA itself–play a major role in development, allowing genetically identical cells to develop different characteristics; epigenetic changes also play a role in cancer and other diseases.

            The Australian molecular immunologist Ted Steele was dismissed from Wollongong Uni for research "supporting the theory of reverse transcription from the somatic (body) cells to the germline (reproductive) cells. This reverse transcription process enables characteristics or bodily changes acquired during a lifetime to be written back into the DNA and passed on to subsequent generations."

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Another nail in the coffin?

              It would be wrong to state Evolution as a fact, but as a theory, it certainly has a decent amount of experimental data going for it. At this stage, changes to the theory are likely to be in the form of adjustments, solutions to edge cases, and other what might be best termed as "fine-tuning".

              Epigenetics has interesting data going for it as well, some of the most interesting coming from studies of monozygotic twins that should have identical DNA yet have different fingerprints and plenty of times show signs (even when raised together in the same household) of divergent behavior: including but not limited to differing sexual orientations. It's a pretty fair sign that DNA can't speak for everything.

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Another nail in the coffin?

        > "just so" stories that change day-by-day

        Science is not an unchanging book, it is a process. Yes, our knowledge changes, it does so as more evidence of the world is gathered and is understood more fully. Many centuries ago motion was Aristotelian, later it became Newtonian, then Einstein introduced relativity and even the GPS system must take this into account*.

        Presumably that is part of your 'just so stories' that you reject, or are you merely being selective to protect your archaic dogma ?

        Genesis was an initial theory about how the world came about, Noah's deluge was an early explanation about why sea shell fossils could be found up a mountain. We know more about the world nowadays, we know that the Earth is a few billion years old and that plate tectonics has scraped sea bed into piles several thousand feet high. Creationism is equivalent to Aristotelianism.

        Knowledge changes, ancient books do not. You may 'study the world' religiously, but to me that means 'on your knees with your eyes closed'. You need to open them before you can see reality.

        * the satellites move fast enough that the small time dilation would lead to significant errors if this wasn't included in the calculations. Indeed in the initial implementation they were inaccurate for rexactly that reason.

      4. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Another nail in the coffin?

        > (observable/provable/testable)

        Evolution is observable and testable, and has been tested. see 'Darwin's Moth'. Darwin had predicted the discovery of a species with particular characteristics.

        https://io9.gizmodo.com/darwin-predicted-this-animals-existence-decades-before-1703223208

        I suppose that you think your faith is observable/provable/testable, but it is merely an archaic collection of various books that are very flawed with contradictions and has no actual evidence.

    2. Scroticus Canis

      Re: Another nail in the coffin? At this point there are more nails than wood

      And yet they (creationists) still rise from an effectively iron coffin. Wonder why I am getting an irresistible urge to sharpen wooden stakes?

  23. Bloodbeastterror

    Some of you might like this...

    http://www.bornagainpagan.com/cartoons/068-doonesbury-creationism.html

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Some of you might like this...

      http://www.bornagainpagan.com/cartoons/068-doonesbury-creationism.html

      - Yikes. 'BornagainPagan' as a title for an atheist site mostly bashing organised religion (not that it doesn't need a good hammering to keep it humble).

      I remember when that title was used for good honest Western Mystery Tradition topics, and more likely to contain quotes from Crowley and Alex Sanders than Dawkins...

  24. kmac499

    Arguing with creationists reminds of the wise advice given to me about trying to teach pigs to sing.

    1) It's a waste of time

    2) It annoys the pig

    3) Should you ever succeed; pigs have lousy singing voices anyway.

    (no character smilarities drawn between pigs and creationists expect stubborn stupidity)

    Meanwhile I'm off to prepare for a winter festival where a virgin girl gives birth, a fat bloke in a red suit visits every home in a flying sleigh in one night, and peace and goodwill cover the earth..

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Meanwhile I'm off to prepare for a winter festival where a virgin girl gives birth, a fat bloke in a red suit visits every home in a flying sleigh in one night, and peace and goodwill cover the earth..

      Christmas is a mere flimsy Christian overlay on a much older festival, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun. Now held on a fixed calandar date, but used to be the winter solistice when the Sun was at it's lowest point and the comnunity could take stock of it's stores of food and know they were halfway through the hardship.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > Now held on a fixed calandar date, but used to be the winter solistice when the Sun was at it's lowest point

        Being 3 days after the solstice is actually correct. It takes a day or two to detect that the lowest point has been reached and the return is happening (it might have continued south if the 'gods' were not appeased correctly'). It then takes a day or so to prepare the feast and gather the tribe together.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Kinda makes me curious how this would've panned out if things were happening in the Southern Hemisphere (where the seasons are six months out of phase), in the torrid zone (where seasons are generally just seen as wet and dry), or in the polar zone (where at worst you have just ONE day a year).

    2. BongoJoe

      Up until the fat bloke in a Coke-Cola suit part I was shouting out "I know this one; it's Mithras, isn't it?"

  25. MJI Silver badge

    Some organisations who understand evolution.

    Church of England

    Catholic Church

    CofE is interesting as they split religion and science.

    And this is an interesting link

    http://episcopalscience.org/creation-science/

    1. Denarius

      Re: Some organisations who understand evolution.

      Well, their leadership think they do. Also those organisations are becoming extinct. Never met a compromised proferssional religious who was clued about any of it. Even heard a senior Baptist academic spout disproven waffle from a century ago as if it was recent. For once I agree with Dawkins. If Darwin was right, Christianity is wrong.

      And vice versa I add.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Some organisations who understand evolution.

        > If Darwin was right, Christianity is wrong. And vice versa I add.

        If Darwin's 'natural selection' is 'wrong' this will have no effect of whether evolution occurs or not but will merely pass the causes of evolution to some other mechanisms. In fact other mechanisms are acknowledged as occurring alongside 'selection of the fittest', even by Darwin, such as 'sexual selection'.

        'Christianity' means different things to different people, which is why there are so many different churches, and even within those people seem to pick and choose what they believe in. Many do not take it to mean creationism, or even require belief in the mythology of Genesis, nor indeed of any particular part of the old testament.

        Darwin doesn't need Christianity to be wrong, nor does Christianity (except some fundamentalist cults) doesn't need Darwin to be wrong.

  26. AJ MacLeod

    Just the usual ignorance on display

    I do appreciate that it's customary in journalism (sorry, this is the Reg - "journalism") to vociferously slander some chosen party (Jews, asylum seekers, Christians, Apple) whilst maintaining complete ignorance of said party's actual beliefs, but this is ridiculous.

    You'll note that it's the evolutionist author of the study who is actually surprised by this result - standard creationism REQUIRES rapid speciation. I think creationists will quite happily take any evidence going to support it...

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

      You'll note that it's the evolutionist author of the study who is actually surprised by this result - standard creationism REQUIRES rapid speciation. I think creationists will quite happily take any evidence going to support it...

      Yup. Thanks. :)

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism#Types%20of%20creationism

        Creationists are a BIG group.

        Half those categories DON'T believe that, for instance.

        Hence why it's dangerous to lump yourself into any group that divides the entire world's population into only a handful of groups (democrat, athiest, Anonymous, scientist, etc.) where even the majority of members may not share your opinion on a number of topics.

        There are other people calling themselves creationists who believe something entirely different to you. And you're lumped in with their opinions by ever referring to yourself as a creationist. The creationists I've spoken to are ALL at the whack-job end of things being created immediately and instantly to "look old", only 6000 years ago, evolution doesn't happen, and God clicked his fingers. They all - without exception - had an enormously poor grasp of science or technology too.

        If you don't like that, stop them calling themselves creationist, or find a better - or even more specific - term for yourself.

        1. Dave B77

          Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

          Your statement shows that you don't understand the YEC (Young Earth Creationist) position at all.

          The YEC position is that rapid speciation is necessary to produce all the species we see today from the kinds of animals that survived the flood on the ark.

          You have probably heard of Answers in Genesis. They are a major YEC apologetic group.

          See for yourself.

          https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/speciation/

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

            Dave B77 mentioned "YEC (Young Earth Creationist)"

            See also 'Last Thursdayism', which is exactly the same thing with an arbitrarily shorter time scale.

            It used to be said that: 'Nothing can be proven over the Internet, and anything can be proven over the Internet, and both of these statements are simultaneously true and false.' We have now graduated to the point where these rules are just as true (and just as false) in the real world too.

            Forget Drake's (Equation) nuclear annihilation fears, or concerns about some future Woody Allen's endlessly distracting Orgasmitron. This present wave of supposedly irrefutable irrational thinking will doom us. The Universe will never 'know itself'. The meat machines are frickin insane.

            Hopeless.

            1. Dave B77

              Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

              I'm not quite sure that you get my point. My linking to AIG was to show Lee D that YEC does teach (counter to his apparent claim) rapid speciation.

          2. Fink-Nottle

            Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

            > Your statement shows that you don't understand the YEC (Young Earth Creationist) position at all.

            You can roll a turd in glitter, but it remains a turd.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

              "You can roll a turd in glitter, but it remains a turd."

              But age it enough and it becomes corprolite.

        2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

          > There are other people calling themselves creationists who believe something entirely different to you.

          There are also many religions that have nothing to do with Judeo/Christianity, that predate the Bible creation' by thousands of years, that have their own gods and their own creation myths. Even these have disagreements about who did what.

        3. Denarius

          Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

          Dear Lee, I suggest you get out more. I have _never_ met a creationist matching your description. Perhaps getting degrees in geology or biology has something to do with it.

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

            Dear Denarius,

            Degrees in mathematics / computer science good enough for you?

            And precisely because it has the word "science" in it, seems to attract just the kind of whack-jobs I describe above.

            By the look of this post, I'm not the only one to experience that.

          2. Mark C 2

            Re: Just the usual ignorance on display

            I have met one of these creationists and they held a senior IT position for a large Financial Organisation in the City of London. Was a very strange conversation in which they stated as fact the earth was 4000 years old and dismissed the fossil record.

            Go ahead and believe in an gods / invisible sky fairy / deity / ghosts / spirits etc. as that it a matter of your own faith but to see all the evidence of the age of the earth and conclude the earth is a few thousand years old is not rational, and I would question your judgement. I think creationists don't actually do research but just believe whatever their shaman / priest / pastor tells them because they want to stay in the club.

            Get religion out of schools (except as an academic study) and confine it to the home / place of worship.

  27. Tom Paine Silver badge

    How depressing...

    A common chant from the anti-evolution crowd is [...]

    How depressing that we have to even acknowledge the rantings of a bunch of nutcases. Of course the story is significant, but... we don't run stories about "another picture from space shows the earth is roughly spherical, rather than a disk on the backs of elephants standing on a giant turtle". Sigh.

    1. Denarius

      Re: How depressing...

      Tom, perhaps the coin from about 3AD showing a figure representing Rome with its foot on a globe to brag about Roman domination of the world suggests you have been in echo chamber too long also ? Washington Irvings 19th century libel against the critics of Columbus is due to be put back where it belongs, lining drawers in garden shed. I would use the word tolerance but it now means the same thing as Maos little Red Book now on "correct thinking"

  28. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Other examples...

    Like, every Antibiotics-Resistant Bacteria ever

    The Influenza virus

    The Common Cold

    Ah, dogs

    Crops

    Orchids

    1. Denarius

      Re: Other examples...

      so how is this making new information instead of genetic culling ? Devolution perhaps it is ?

    2. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Other examples...

      And, according to the news this morning, people....

      We are, through having women with narrow birth canals giving birth by cesarean section stopping so many women dying in child birth, causing an overall narrowing in average birth canal sizes across human kind. (I paraphrase but I hope you get the idea).

      Interesting...

  29. Chris G Silver badge

    Please explain

    Why, if the world is the result of 'Intelligent Design' it stopped before Ikea finiture was invented?

  30. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    This will convince no-one. Those of us with the blinkers off will say "interesting, but duh!" and those who can look at horse skeletons in the museum and still say there's no such evolution will cling to their position because, like a Trump vote, it's not a matter of intellect but one of emotional faith.

  31. Dave B77

    A few points.

    1 - Most creationists don't deny that this sort of change happens..

    2 - Who decides that it is a new species? Is it a new species just because "they" say so? This is not to deny that it is a new species or that speciation happens, it is to point out that speciation is an arbitrary concept, especially when talking about a single-celled organism.

    3 - The comment "Lenski demonstrate that over time the bacteria could evolve into a new type that could grow using entirely new food sources" in the article is totally wrong. e.Coli already has the ability to metabolize citrate when oxygen is not present. The new variant (dubbed cit+) is now able to use citrate even when oxygen is present.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      a) None of them that I've ever spoken to or met, online or otherwise. Creationists are a huge collection of people, and though some of them may be educated in such matters, the vast majority are basically "anti-evolutionists" too. This is the problem when you lump people into only a handful of categories, and those people still REFER to themselves as those categories (i.e. I'm a mathematician, but it doesn't mean I agree with other mathematicians as regards the utility of IT, for instance).

      b) Species has a definition, which basically involves whether they can successfully interbreed again. In this case, you would expect one species to be distinctly different to any other, and for them to "compete" for resources such that they aren't compatible (i.e. one does not co-exist in the presence of the other). It's much deeper and more complicated than that, and there is a certain borderline of interpretation, but things having distinctly different digestion habits is highly indicative of new STRAINS (i.e. species at this level). It'd be like a human suddenly gaining the ability to breathe carbon dioxide, and giving birth to others with the same ability. Not just "oh, that's odd, you're allergic to bread", but an entirely new way of surviving that other strains can NEVER do.

      c) It's poorly summarised, maybe, but "This citrate could be a second food source for the bacteria, but one of the defining characteristics of E. coli as a species is its inability to grow on citrate when oxygen is present." - as such it's able to "grow using entirely new food sources" (citrate - oxygen instead of citrate + oxygen).

      1. Dave B77

        a) If you do some research into creationist groups like Answers In Genesis or the Institute of Creation Research, you'll see that they don't argue against "change" (even to the point of speciation). They argue that the type of change we see (like the change in the article) is insufficient to account for all of the different forms of life that we see. You are equating any sort of change as evolution, when their "anti-evolutionism" is focused on the Theory of Evolution, not small adaptions like these.

        b). That is sort of my point. You mention interbreeding in the definition of species, but viruses don't interbreed at all. Calling these viruses "new species" is not very helpful. It's very arbitrary.

        c) The presence or lack of oxygen is not the food source, citrate is. The wild type e coli already has a gene for a citrate transporter protein needed to bring citrate inside of the cell wall (think of the transporter as a "mouth" that is specific to citrate). The problem is that the promoter region for the gene is "inhibited" by oxygen. Without an accessible promoter region, the gene can't be expressed into a protein. The mutation that led to the cit+ genome resulted in a copy of the existing transporter gene downstream from a copy of an existing (but different) promoter that is not inhibited by oxygen. This allows the transporter gene to be expressed even when oxygen is present.

        Once the citrate is inside the cell wall, all e coli already have the ability to metabolize it.

        So, the change isn't a new food source, it is a change to the conditions in which the food source can be utilized.

        Also makes you wonder how the e coli came to have the citrate transporter gene in the first place, doesn't it?

  32. Michael Sanders

    The question is, did it come up with new code? Or did existing code get turned on? That's the difference.

  33. scrubber
    Meh

    Are you a god?

    Thor came down and used his hammer to split the original into 2 new species.

    How is that against Odin's marvelous creationism?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Registered

    Nah, if it didn't march on to the ark - it doesn't count.

  35. Denarius

    Another strawman argument

    speciation was never disputed except for some group back in 19th century. The natural philosophers had been discussing variation and adaptation for 2 centuries before Charles. No doubt one of the Greek speculation enthusiasts had some concept that could be stretched to fit requirement 2 millennia ago. No, I cant be bothered to trawl through library and for some reason, dont trust Google or wackypedia on it either.

    Article shows usual faulty argument that shuffling existing information is the same as generating new information. A strong argument could be made that creationists were supporting fast speciation events _long_ before the materialist fanatics decided it was occurring. Goldschmidt with his "hopeful monster" and Stephen Gould with "saltation events" were honourable exceptions. That someone with Goulds standing and firm belief in the one true faith of materialism could consider speciation events happened quickly suggests it is mainstream evolutionary believers that are slow to adapt.

    Given the intricate variation generating processes built into DNA (transposons) while also maintaining error checking mechanisms suggests believers in mere random chance generating new information have a belief system that defies logic. But then, this is a "post truth" culture. The shoutiest group is deemed to have won. C'mon ElReg, you normally do better than this piece of histrionics.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Another strawman argument

      Article shows usual faulty argument that shuffling existing information is the same as generating new information.
      Wish I could upvote that more!

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Another strawman argument

      No doubt one of the Greek speculation enthusiasts had some concept that could be stretched to fit requirement 2 millennia ago.
      Aristotle was a marine biologist, and a very good one. He gave us the term species in biology. Somewhat oddly, he saw evolution in an opposite sense to current thinking. For example, he thought that the great apes were descended from humans.

  36. Number6

    Annoying the Powerful

    The best argument to put to a creationist for believing in evolution is:

    If there's an all-powerful being out there who made the Earth in six days about six thousand years ago, and yet went to all the trouble of making all the dinosaur skeletons and setting up the firmament to look like it was several billion years old, do you really want to piss him off and claim it's all fake?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Annoying the Powerful

      The creationist would just reply, "He would not be 'pissed off,' as you claim. He would be pleased that true believers can recognize His work and realize it for the Test of Faith it truly is. Not that you'd ever understand, heathen, since this is a gift only given to the true believers."

      Who was it that said that it's impossible to convince the truly irrational?

  37. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Lensky

    Lensky did not demonstrate speciation in Escheria coli where speciation means reproductive isolation. Bacteria as Lynn Margulis noted are mighty promiscuous and will share their genes with bacteria whatever humans determine they should be named.

    E. coli BTW diverged from its nearest ancestor (salmonella) 100 million years ago. How's that for gradual evolution? After 100 million years it's still E. coli :-)

  38. Pompous Git Silver badge

    New genes or ancient genes?

    From Trends in Genetics

    The resulting data set… implies that much of the genetic complexity commonly assumed to have arisen much later in animal evolution is actually ancestral. The most surprising implication of these analyses, however, is that anthozoans have retained a substantial number of genes not previously known in the animal kingdom. Two possibilities remain to explain the presence of these genes in the anthozoan genomes:

    (i) lateral gene transfer (LGT); or

    (ii) conservation of ancient genes that have been lost from those animals for which complete sequences are available.

    Although we cannot rule out LGT in all cases, we favor the latter explanation for most of these matches…

    In many respects, the complexity of the anthozoan gene set does not differ substantially from that of vertebrates and frequently exceeds that of the model invertebrates Drosophila and Caenorhabditis… One possible interpretation of the counterintuitive genetic complexity of cnidarians could be that they are actually highly derived deuterostomes. However, this interpretation is strongly contradicted by a large body of phylogenetic data, which indicates that cnidarians are a monophyletic group basal within the Eumetazoa and forming the sister group to the Bilateria….

    Four general conclusions emerge from this work. First, a link between morphological complexity and gene number is illusory. Second, the common ancestor of cnidarians and ‘higher’ animals (the Ureumetazoa) was surprisingly complex at the genetic level. Third, a small percentage of genes in the two anthozoans represents preserved ancient genes that were present in the common ancestor but have been lost in the ‘higher’ animals so far examined… Finally, gene loss has had a major role in animal evolution, and has been particularly extensive in the ecdysozoan model organisms… The remarkable genetic complexity of anthozoan cnidarians implies that most of the qualitative genetic differences between animals and other eukaryotes are ancestral…

  39. Pompous Git Silver badge

    "Random Mutation

    Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired wrote:

    …molecular biologist, Barry Hall, published results which not only confirmed Cairns’s claims but laid on the table startling additional evidence of direct mutation in nature. Hall found that his cultures of E. coli would produce needed mutations at a rate about 100 million times greater than would be statistically expected if they came by chance. Furthermore, when he dissected the genes of these mutated bacteria by sequencing them, he found mutations in no areas other than the one where there was selection pressure. This means that the successful bugs did not desperately throw off all kinds of mutations to find the one that works; they pinpointed the one alteration that fit the bill. Hall found some directed variations so complex they required the mutation of two genes simultaneously. He called that “the improbable stacked on top of the highly unlikely.” These kinds of miraculous change are not the kosher fare of serial random accumulation that natural selection is supposed to run on. They have the smell of some design.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "Random Mutation

      EXCEPT, as they say, history is written by the winners. Astronomical as the odds can be, once they DO hit, that one advantage immediately smothers all other representations. The news only ever talks about the people that WIN the billion-dollar Powerball. No one ever talks about the billions of LOSING tickets along the way. Same distortion of perspective, which also applies to the question of why we live in the universe we live now with such astronomical odds of even existing. The very fact we exist shows the odds must've hit at SOME point.

  40. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Several theories of evolution

    1. It’s all just down to an amazing long streak of lucky events. We Know The Truth. Live with it. [neoDarwinists]

    2. This is not the explanation for evolution. Evolution involves whole nucleotide sequences (horizontal gene transfer). [Panspermia advocates/Margulis et alia]

    3. There is some undiscovered mechanism/mechanisms operating to skew the odds. That is, the process is not random at all. [Prigogine et alia]

    4. God done it.

    I can never quite decide between Prigogine or Margulis...

  41. James Hughes 1

    I normally avoid discussions like this

    But since it's Christmas, I'd like to say Merry Xmas to all the creationists and evolution non-believers out there.

    You are all blinkered morons.*

    Thank you.

    * Note, I could have listed thousands of pages of evidence why Evolution exists, why the Universe is 13.8B years old etc, but since you won't listen or even bother to do the slightest bit of investigation on the subject (I've actually read Darwin btw; not all of it mind you, it's a bit dry), I'll just stick with morons.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: I normally avoid discussions like this

      Forgot to mention - bring on the thumbs down! I can take it! It's Xmas remember!

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I normally avoid discussions like this

        Is it? Or is it really just a festival for the Winter Solstice manhandled into something compatible?

  42. Norman123

    Seeing is not believing

    I was talking to a fundamentalist about man going to the moon and back. His reply: "Not only I don't believe that, but if they took me to the moon and brought me back, I would still not believe it". Ignatius Loyola, the scoundrel who founded the Jesuits Order proclaimed that "If your eyes see the milk to be white but the Church says it is black, believe the Church, not your eyes". M. MeConnel and Inhofe are put there for imposing their belief systems on the rest of the planet irrespective of science, morality, technology or any other irrelevant facts to profiteering by any means.

  43. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Happy

    Creationists ?

    Ok, why is this story full of [insertExcrement] again ?

    1. virus is NOT a living being

    2. I think creationists have never heard of Mitochondrial DNA ... that discovery proves creationism is just "wrong", no ifs, buts or maybes.

    Copernicus proved creationism was all wrong, so did Galileo, and many more scientists after that. The Persian scientists were ROFL when they heard of the holey book ... sadly, Muslims silenced them. As for the Greeks, they were to laugh until the Christians silenced them, along with much of the rest of the world for 1500 years .... Funny, the Greek's theory, calculated from the trajectory of the other planets/moon in space and sun (in the sky). Jews seem to be mainly " creationists" as well ... trying to talk sense into believers is futile ... they just WANT it to be true. Like Trump supporters, Brexiters, and all other racists, they WANT to believe they are better than the rest ... which is not completely wrong, they are more gullible and the rest of us .... c'est la vie! We have to share the planet with 'em all ... we have but one.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Creationists ?

      "2. I think creationists have never heard of Mitochondrial DNA ... that discovery proves creationism is just "wrong", no ifs, buts or maybes."

      Exactly why does mitochondrial DNA conclusively prove creationism is wrong beyond any ability to argue back, even from an irrational viewpoint (and remember, you can't convince an irrational person)?

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Creationists ?

      Copernicus proved creationism was all wrong, so did Galileo
      Citation please. You may not be aware that in his day Galileo was more famous for his sermons than his physics. He was pious almost to a fault.

      for the holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the divine Word the former as the dictate of the Holy Ghost and the latter as the observant executrix of God's commands.

      From Galileo's Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Creationists ?

        If it was written in 1615, that was probably written AFTER he was forced to repent before the Pope for writing Starry Messenger which proved not everything revolved around the Earth by noting, among other things, Jupiter had satellites of its own, and that Venus showed a full set of phases: physically impossible under the Aristotalean hypothesis because a Full Venus required the Sun to be in front of Venus.

        IOW, that was likely written under duress.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Creationists ?

          If it was written in 1615, that was probably written AFTER he was forced to repent before the Pope for writing Starry Messenger ...

          IOW, that was likely written under duress.

          Bellarmine advised Galileo to refer to the Copernican system as a mathematical theory only in 1616. This was the year that De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was temporarily placed on the list of prohibited books pending revision to the front matter. Why would Galileo have been forced to write condemning his friends Cardinals Bellarmine and Berberini (future Pope Urban) the year before the judgement? Galileo stated that they "determine in 'hypocritical zeal' to preserve at all costs what they believe, rather than admit what is obvious to their eyes."

          Galileo's Letter to Christina: Some Rhetorical Considerations

  44. Gigabob

    God meant it this way

    What ever you call them - Climate Change Denyers, Nationalists, Bible Belters, Creationists - they are proficient at ignoring facts in favor of feelings - and as feelings worsen they fall back on "beliefs and faith" that are at variance with reality. The sad thing is letting these people vote. I subscribe to the notion that we have reached a phase in human existence where activities like voting, procreation and other long term obligations should require a test and you need a credential to participate.

    Hitler was a great demagogue. He basically spouted nonsense - but did it with such emotional content that followers were swept up and their feelings changed. To a lesser extent, Trump was able to do the same for his "Denyers" despite their intense reservations for the man himself and his values. Now we get to live with that decision as he works his way into WW3 with the largest economy on the planet, and the owner of substantial levels of our debt - which he threatened to cancel on the campaign trail.

  45. This post has been deleted by its author

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As I understand it, it isn't that you can't observe some change with very small organisms, its that you have a big problem with small populations of large organisms producing enough beneficial mutations at the rate required. Especially when it comes to events like the Cambrian period when there was an explosion of new species.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Especially when it comes to events like the Cambrian period when there was an explosion of new species.
      Not just species, whole phyla arose at a rate an order of magnitude greater than theory would expect. Well worth reading: Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life and Simon Conway Morris's Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. Conway Morris's work on the Burgess Shale fossils work inspired parts of Gould's masterpiece. Conway Morris is, shock! horror! a Christian. So it goes...

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      As I understand it, it isn't that you can't observe some change with very small organisms, its that you have a big problem with small populations of large organisms producing enough beneficial mutations at the rate required.
      That's a minor problem compared to the one identified by the Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Susumu Ohno. In his classic book Evolution by Gene Duplication he pointed out that in order for a gene to evolve some new function, the gene would first need to be replicated lest the organism lose the gene's original function. The replicate gene can then mutate to generate the new function. But since that gene is no longer expressed, it is no longer subject to selection pressure and thus is likely to be lost. Natural Selection is an efficient mechanism for deleting "unnecessary" genes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But suppose genes DID lose function, only those functions at the time were superfluous. Didn't geneticists also note that only a small fraction of our genetic code is actually in active use and that, should some of the older codes switch on, you'd end up with what's not termed an atavism?

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Didn't geneticists also note that only a small fraction of our genetic code is actually in active use
          Back in the days when The Git was in Big School studying genetics nearly 50 years ago, it was clear there were two types of DNA. Only a small fraction was used to generate RNA, the rest was labelled "junk" DNA because it appeared to have no such function. Later, it was discovered that the "junk" was far better conserved than the useful stuff, so it was renamed "silent". Unravelling what DNA and replicated genes do and don't do is a matter of ongoing research.

          In the meantime, the movement of genes between unrelated organisms was discovered. It would appear that horizontal/lateral gene transfer (HGT/LGT) plays a far more important role than point mutation of genes in situ. As an example there's a cnidarian (jellyfish) with perfect lenses, but lacking the necessary retina and brain to process visual information. Dawkins' account in The Blind Watchmaker has the retina and brain come before perfect lenses, not after.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            "In the meantime, the movement of genes between unrelated organisms was discovered. It would appear that horizontal/lateral gene transfer (HGT/LGT) plays a far more important role than point mutation of genes in situ. As an example there's a cnidarian (jellyfish) with perfect lenses, but lacking the necessary retina and brain to process visual information."

            According to some articles I've read in Nature, the lenses still serve a purpose though not in the way we use eyes.

  47. William Higinbotham

    Donald Trump under microscope.

    Defies all and any theories on how he came about. Still scratching head trying to figure this out.

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