Monday, August 29, 2005

Teaching the controversy: genetics from 1968

The Chromosome Shuffle: Corante - The Loom

Teaching the Controversy: Part XVIII (emphases mine)

The Intelligent Design crew wants to pit the science of 1968 against the science of 2005.
One of the most interesting features of our chromosomes, which I mention briefly in the article, is that we’re one pair short. In other words, we humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, while other apes have 24. Creationists bring this discrepancy up a lot. They claim that it represents a fatal blow to evolution. Here’s one account, from Apologetics Press:
If the blueprint of DNA locked inside the chromosomes codes for only 46 chromosomes, then how can evolution account for the loss of two entire chromosomes? The task of DNA is to continually reproduce itself. If we infer that this change in chromosome number occurred through evolution, then we are asserting that the DNA locked in the original number of chromosomes did not do its job correctly or efficiently. Considering that each chromosome carries a number of genes, losing chromosomes does not make sense physiologically, and probably would prove deadly for new species. No respectable biologist would suggest that by removing one (or more) chromosomes, a new species likely would be produced. To remove even one chromosome would potentially remove the DNA codes for millions of vital body factors. Eldon Gardner summed it up as follows: “Chromosome number is probably more constant, however, than any other single morphological characteristic that is available for species identification” (1968, p. 211). To put it another way, humans always have had 46 chromosomes, whereas chimps always have had 48.
1968. That's the science the creationists favor? If this were a matter of reason they wouldn't be on the playing field, but of course it's not. Any nation capable of reelecting GWB can readily convince themselves that green is red, and that science in 1968 is as robust as science in 2005.

Of course, on further reflection, that makes perfect sense. Faith based writings in 1210 are just as relevant as those written in 2005. Why should biology be any different?

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