URCall: Still a Fruit Fly

From the ICR’s URCall series of videos, hosted by Markus Lloyd. (link)

Transcript:

Evolution claims that change occurs from simple creatures to complex creatures – but is that really the case? Since the early 1900’s scientists have been experimenting with fruit flies, to try to produce mutations that result in a major change that evolutionary theory proposes. While over 3000 mutations have been documented, not a single one has resulted in a creature that is anything other than a fruit fly. How long are you willing to wait for science to prove evolution?

We can only start with the beginning: that evolutionary claim isn’t. Sure, it’s trivially true that if you started with an organism that was in some way minimally “complex” it would only be able to become more so. But we’re talking about fruit flies here – there’s no rule that says they must become more complex (which would be difficult to define anyway) in a time period shorter than the ICR’s patience.

Then we have the Drosophila research. Contrary to what the ICR fervently wishes you to believe, mutating fruit flies is done less to find potential new beneficial mutations than to deliberately break genes in order to discover what they do. For example we might name a gene “white” because mutating it produces white eyes instead of the usual red. But most mutations do nothing, and so are not even detected unless the DNA is directly sequenced, and even those that are beneficial may not be terribly interesting to this kind of research.

In stark contrast the picture painted by the ICR is of pre-Darwinian saltationists – who believed that individual mutations caused large changes which, if successful, would lead to a sudden evolutionary leap – desperately trying to prove that their mechanism is possible by documenting every possible fruit fly mutation. This equation of saltationism with evolution as understood today is a known, if crude, creationist trick, but we shouldn’t be expecting much better from these videos.

Of course, beneficial mutations in Drosophila melanogaster are known. For example the insertion of a transposable element into a gene called “I’m not dead yet” (indy) causes an increase in the lifespan and fertility of fruit flies, hence the name. What’s more, recent research has found that this mutation has spread into the wild population over the last 60 years or so and been quite successful, as you might expect given it’s result. Also this year it has been shown that entire new genes have arisen – and are still spreading – in D. melanogaster.

These might be extremely inconvenient for Jeff Tomkins’ arguments about orphan genes, but they don’t constitute the creation of a creature that’s not a fruit fly. You see, the creationists are correct in saying that this is impossible, but not for the reason they claim. For example we might say that birds evolved from dinosaurs, but it’s more accurate to say that birds are dinosaurs – “still dinosaurs,” if you prefer. Similarly humans are “still” fish, for a scientifically rigorous definition of fish. And so though their descendants might evolve 12 legs and innate scuba gear, they will still be unable to escape being technically fruit flies.

But despite constructing this entirely baseless test for evolution, the best that the script writers at the ICR could come up with is to dismiss the science because it hasn’t been successful yet. Considering the logical leaps made in this and other episodes you might think that they would claim instead that it proves evolution wrong. It’s almost funny, really…

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4 thoughts on “URCall: Still a Fruit Fly

  1. Contributing to the misleading nature of ICR’s claims is not just the problematic nature of what they says, but also what they don’t say. The term “fruit flies” does not just refer to a species or even genus of flies, but an entire family, which includes over 3,000 living species. So what he is asking for is changes far beyond the species level, all in historical times, which is absurd and not at all what evolutionary theory expects. Even the formation of a new species would be expected to be rare in a modern time frame, and yet there are documented examples of that, as well as extensive indirect evidence of speciation from population and genetic studies, and of course compelling evidence in the fossil record. Lloyd asks how long we should wait for “proof” of evolution, even tho we already have abundant evidence of it from several fields. Surely Lloyd and others at ICR must know at least some of these things, but as usual, they apparently they count on most readers not knowing them. I really don’t know how they sleep at night knowing they are pushing half baked, misleading propaganda in the name of God, especially when aimed at impressionable young people. Yet they do it routinely with big smiles on their face, and a ridiculing tone toward all the hard working, sincere scientists who have developed much of this evidence (and which includes many fellow believers). I agree it’s _almost_ funny, but even more sad and pathetic. For some of the evidence of speciation in flies and other groups, see:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html and
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

  2. “How long are you willing to wait for science to prove evolution?”

    You guys have been waiting for the return of Christ for how long now? Seriously.

    • Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till we find something that these people will accept for the evidence it truly is.

  3. I know your comment was facetious, but on a serious note, YECs sometimes have admitted that they were wrong or possibly wrong about some specific line of evidence now (like the Paluxy tracks) but I see no sign that most will even consider that their overall YEC position may be wrong. After all, even when confronted with powerful contrary evidence against it, they typically just deny or distort it, or as they did on the RATE project, invent ad-hoc miracles. Of course, with that approach, they have a non-fasifiable “model’, and thus a very unscientific one. YECs often claim evolution also is not falsifiable. Baloney. As others have said, just show us some Cambrian rabbits, or anything similarly incompatible with the overall patterns of evolution and the fossil record. Documenting countless clear examples should be easy if all life forms were living at the same time only a few thousand years ago. However, they can’t point to a single robust case–just a handful of dubious ones (most of which are well refuted), among countless millions of fossils in expected places and sequences.

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