AIG: Information and the Micro-Macro Mambo

The creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia — have just posted: New Study Overturns the “Conventional Wisdom” of Evolution.

Wowie — this is important news! It was written by Avery Foley. AIG says she holds a masters of arts in theological studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, which certainly qualifies her to discuss this subject. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Conventional evolutionary wisdom has been overturned — again. Evolutionists have long taught and believed that promiscuity increases genetic and rapid diversity, thereby helping the evolution of new species along. But this “conventional wisdom” has now been overturned by a new study on shorebird populations, led by the University of Bath’s Milner Centre for Evolution.

This is what she’s talking about — it’s an article at PhysOrg: Promiscuity slows down evolution of new species. Avery says:

This new study suggests that promiscuity does the opposite of what has long been believed. Instead of speeding up supposed evolutionary processes, it slows down the formation of new species. Polygamous bird species (species that breed with more than one partner during the season) have less genetic diversity compared to monogamous bird species populations (species that breed with just one partner per season). Here’s why:

• Polygamous species have to travel farther to find their mates, so they spread their genes over a wide geographical area. This mixes up and dilutes the gene pool over a larger area so that populations are “less likely to diversify into new species over time.”

• Monogamous species generally come back to the same breeding sites, which allows them to gradually adapt to that specific environment. This increases the chance they will split off and form new species.

That sounds reasonable. If a male is spreading his genetic material far and wide, there would be less opportunity for relatively isolated groups to become a separate species by breeding apart from the rest of their species. After that she tells us:

Now, this article throws the word evolution around a lot, but is it really evolution? … [A]ll they’re talking about is natural selection and adaptation, which is not the same thing as evolution.

Brace yourself, dear reader. Avery will now tell us what evolution really is:

Evolution requires the addition of brand-new information to change one kind of organism into another kind. But what we observe in nature — including what they observed in this study — is speciation caused by natural selection and adaptation.

Aaaargh!! Information again. The last time AIG discussed that was Ken Ham Says Roadside Evolution Is Biblical, where we said:

At this point, it’s important to note that “information” in this context is a creationist invention. Evolution is the result of change in a population’s genome over several generations. Creationists recently started to insist that true evolution requires the addition of some magical quality they call information, and if they don’t see it, there wasn’t any evolution. It’s a convenient, but nonsensical form of denial. See Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information.

The more we think about it, the more it seems that creationist “information” is something insubstantial and ethereal, like the soul — which has a supernatural origin. It’s nothing as crude — or as natural — as a mutation. Mutations result in what creationists call “micro-evolution,” which isn’t evolution at all. True evolution is “macro-evolution,” and that (say the creationists) requires a divine injection of information. In Common Creationist Claims Confuted, we said this about the micro-macro mambo:

If you ask a creationist why “macro” changes are impossible you’ll be told that it’s just impossible — some magic barrier interferes to preserve the integrity of scriptural “kinds.” Because of that unevidenced magical mechanism, which only the magic designer — blessed be he! — can overcome, creationists flatly assert that regardless of time, one species cannot evolve into another — despite the abundant fossil evidence to the contrary. Therefore, creationism requires belief in a two-part dogma consisting of: (1) the Great Barrier; and (2) the miracle that breaks through the barrier. The error is enormous, because first it involves accepting, at the scale of a few visible generations, both the fact of and the mechanism for evolution (variation and natural selection), and then rejecting the inevitable consequences of what has been accepted.

It now appears that “information” has been invented to supplement the micro-macro mambo. The alleged absence of new “information” (which only the designer — blessed be he! — can provide) is what constitutes the imaginary barrier that prevents micro-evolution from going too far.

Okay, now that we’ve grasped the creationist argument, Avery continues:

New species (which are simply variations within a kind that possess specific characteristics reflecting their genetics) form because some individuals survive better than others in a specific environment due to the features they express (i.e. longer beak or larger wingspan). Those with these characteristics live and pass along their genes; those without it are less likely to reproduce, and may even die. This is an observable process we see going on around us, and it does indeed form new species. While we can observe the formation of new species due to the incredible amount of genetic variability God has built into each creature’s genome, what we never observe is one kind of organism turning into another kind.

We can imagine some drooling idiot reading Avery’s essay and thinking: Hey, that’s brilliant! Let’s read on:

Could this research help explain the explosion of genetic diversity that followed the global Flood of Noah’s day? Perhaps it could. Animals getting off the Ark couldn’t really be promiscuous — most of them only had one mate to choose from! Perhaps this forced monogamy helped to kick start genetic diversity in the first few generations after the Flood.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! This explains everything! Avery sums it all up in her final paragraph:

In addition, these Ark kinds had a greater genetic diversity than the animals we have today: they have speciated out (e.g. lost genetic information) for more than 4,300 years. The Ark kinds also were faced with conditions that tend to promote speciation—extensive climactic, dietary, and later predator/prey changes; genetic bottlenecks; founder effect; and then geographic isolation as they spread around the globe. When all of these early-post-Flood and Ice Age factors are considered alongside “forced monogamy” or “reduced promiscuity” of many animal kinds at this time, the early splits and linear speciation we see in the Tertiary fossil record make perfect sense within an early-post-Flood and Ice Age biblical timeframe.

This is really slick. Your Curmudgeon is impressed. But of course, it all depends on the magical ingredient of “information” — whatever that is. Perhaps, one day, the creationists will define it and show us what it is. Until then, it’s still pixie dust.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “AIG: Information and the Micro-Macro Mambo

  1. This crap has been refuted thousands of times. I’m tired of reading about it. People who refuse to open science books before they open their mouths can provide only so much entertainment. I think that it’s time for me to leave the creationists and religitards in the dustbin where they belong. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

  2. explosion of genetic diversity that followed the global Flood of Noah’s day
    The Bible does not say anything about any change in genetic diversity, let alone an explosion. Actually, the Bible does not say anything about genetic diversity. How do the creationists know about that explosion, were they there?

  3. Thanks, very enlightening. Only now I begin to understand what that Dutch creationist goof was talking about when he claimed that speciation had nothing to do with evolution. And yes, “information” seems to have become the latest creationist pet magical word.

    “We can imagine some drooling idiot reading ….”
    Apparently that Dutch creationist goof is one of them.

    “they have speciated out (e.g. lost genetic information) for more than 4,300 years …”
    Those droolers don’t grasp what they write themselves. Do some extrapolation and we are expected to end up with the same genetic information as amoebas. Indeed the Dutch expression “the intelligence of an amoeba” fully applies to Avery and co.

    “Perhaps, one day, the creationists will define it and show us what it is.”
    Yeah and perhaps our dear SC one day will vote for someone more radical than Bernie Sanders.

  4. What Dutch critternist would that be, MnB0?

  5. Conventional evolutionary wisdom has been overturned — again. Evolutionists have long taught and believed that promiscuity increases genetic and rapid diversity, thereby helping the evolution of new species along.

    So, one minor detail has been corrected, making the overall theory of evolution just a tiny bit more accurate at describing what goes on in the real world.

    No big deal, as that’s what science is supposed to do.

    But what is illustrative is that creationists once again show 1) that they can only nit-pick, poorly, at the edges of science, and 2) that they have no evidence to support their creationist claims. Same as always, eh?

  6. The ancient Greeks thought that the Earth was a sphere. And Newton’s theory predicted that it would would be an oblate spheroid. And today the scientists say that it is different from a spheroid. They can’t make up their mind. Maybe they will someday come to realize that it is flat.

  7. Ross Cameron

    ‘Geographic isolation as they spread around the globe’???? Talk about a clash of ideas. How can you be in geographic isolation if you SPREAD across the globe. What about the drop-outs on the journey from Ark to whatever? There should be a trail of koalas on the trip to Australia unless some celestial cowboys kept them rounded up.

    Ice Age? Ice Age? There ain`t no Ice Age mentioned in the bible.

  8. jimroberts

    Avery Foley seems to conflate magic “information” with genetic diversity: “these Ark kinds had a greater genetic diversity than the animals we have today”.

    We know how genetic diversity works, and a population of two of an unclean kind (as she says “most of them only had one mate to choose from!”) cannot carry more than four alleles at each locus. Modern populations have loci at which there are dozens of alleles, but, presumably, less creo-information overall.

  9. jimroberts

    (There must be an unwanted space after a double quote character.)

    [*Voice from above*] It was an unwanted hard-return, but I injected some intelligently designed information, and now it’s gone.

  10. I’m not sure that this is surprising to evolutionary biology. Promiscuity increases genetic flow and reduces chances of reproductive isolation. Reduced genetic isolation reduces the chance of speciation.

    It’s not that promiscuity reduces the genetic diversity — it just reduces the chance that this diversity will ‘separate out’ into a new species.

  11. ‘what we never observe is one kind of organism turning into another kind.’
    Depends on what you mean by ‘another kind’ and provided you exclude organisms like Helacyton. I would be interested in a creationist’s take on that.

  12. I think I pointed this out before. You say “At this point, it’s important to note that “information” in this context is a creationist invention”. Not so. Information is a real and important concept.

    What the creationists do is to redefine “information” so that the information actually arising from mutation doesn’t count. See e.g. Behe’s sad Quart Rev Biology (Dec 2010) paper. (incidentally, I first came across Maarten Boudry through his destruction of Intelligent Design, in that same issue)

    Avery is using AiG’s version of this argument. Since lions and tigers and pussycats are of the same kind, the genome of the Cat Kind on the Ark must have included all the genetic information needed to make all of these, now broken or disabled except for what is needed in each individual species.

    What is not clear is how the Whale Kind ever required all those broken or disabled smell genes. I suppose I will just have to study Ken Ham’s and Michael Behe’s writings more deeply in order to find out.

  13. Paul Braterman says: “Information is a real and important concept.”

    Yes, but not in the sense that creationists use the term. They say it’s: (1) not naturally produced in organisms; and (2) it’s required to significantly alter a species — in addition to mutations selected and accumulated over a number of generations.

  14. That’s AiG’s take. ID, which I dicussed, is subtly different, better defined, and as a paradoxical result even more incoherent. Discredit where discredit is due, and I think Avery is running the two together.

  15. @Paul Braterman: “I suppose I will just have to study Ken Ham’s and Michael Behe’s writings more deeply in order to find out.”

    Yes! You’ve got it! That is exactly the right response to this… and fortunately, Ken and his cronies are standing by with LOTS of books you can buy to help set you straight on the topic!

    The way to the lord is through your pocket book!

  16. How is the term “information” better defined in ID?
    I don’t understand what sort of thing has information. An individual living thing, or a population, or a clade, or a molecule (such as DNA), an atom, an electron, or does inorganic matter also have information: an environment, …? Is information an extensive or intensive property, or neither? What sort of experiment has been done to verify that information is conserved?

  17. TomS asks:

    How is the term “information” better defined in ID?

    It’s somehow entangled with “specified complexity” and it’s detected by use of the Discoveroids’ “design filter.”

  18. Information was defined by Shannon. It is closely related to Kolmogorov entropy. It is an extensive property, and is not conserved. Indeed, I am generating information even as I type. Creationists seize on the superficial but productive analogy to negentropy (see Schroedinger, What is LIfe? to pretend that it can only be dissipated, not generated. In reality, all mutations other than deletions generate new information.

  19. I don’t think that anyone is objecting to the scientific concept of information. My questions are directed to the anti-evolution-ists’ use of the term “information”. (BTW, I am being deliberate in avoiding the word “concept” when speaking of the creationists’ “information”.)

    I think that the creationists would say that an intelligent designer can generate their kind of information. Indeed, they need that capability. But they also need to say that without an intelligent designer their kind of information cannot increase.

    Yet how can we determine that “information” cannot increase by natural means?
    1) It could be that there is a experiment which shows the semi-conservation.
    I doubt that there is such an experiment. When we increase “information” we are doing it by natural means, for example. We are not immune to natural laws.
    2) it could be that there is a mathematical demonstration which shows the semi-conservation. Is that what Dembski tried to show? ISTM that if we can prove, mathematically, that “information” cannot increase, but an intelligent omnipotent designer can increase “information” – this is an affirmative answer to the question “Can God make 2+2=5”.

  20. This came up before here, though I don’t now if it was with you. Chaitin proved that under mindless selection pressure information can increase. He has been criticized for considering an individual replicating chain, rather than a population, which ofc he would need to do to realistically model evolution, but that wasn’t his point.

  21. @Draken: the drooler calls himself Eppie.

    In case you consider commenting there you should know that you will be heavily edited, even if usually your points remain intact.

    @PB: ” as a paradoxical result even more incoherent”
    That’s not a paradox at all, it’s a feature essential for creationism. It’s why every single form of it can be nothing but creacrap. As soon as creationists start to care about coherence, consistency and disambiguity – all requirements for a scientific theory – they have to admit that they have to throw it where it belongs.

  22. Well, Ham, promiscuïty keeps evolution at bay. Sin fights the devil. Choose what you prefer: being eaten by à crocodile or by a tiger.