Discovery Institute: Dogs Are Degenerates, Part 2

Almost three years ago we wrote Discovery Institute Says Dogs Are Degenerates, about a post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog claiming that “the incredible variety of dog breeds, going back in origin several thousand years ago but especially to the last few centuries, represents no increase in information but rather a decrease or loss of function on the genetic and anatomical levels.”

It ended saying: “In truth, for all the undoubted charms of dogs, their breeding is nothing other than degeneration.”

Now they have a follow-up on it. Their latest is No, Your Dog Is Not a Barking Exemplar of Macroevolution. It was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Dogs are yet another evolutionary icon that Jonathan Wells, perhaps in his next book, could handily leash and take for a walk. The idea expressed by Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and others is that the descent from a common ancestor with wolves demonstrates not only the power of artificial selection, but by extension that of natural selection to sculpt brand new animals. In other words, your pooch is a barking exemplar of macroevolution.

No, not “macro” evolution. Dogs and wolves can still mate and produce offspring. But evolution nevertheless. In Origin of Species, Darwin started by discussing the variations in plants and animals bred by man, and from that he developed the concept of natural selection. But it’s all evolution. Klinghoffer disagrees. He says:

One problem with this, among others, is that the virtue we value most in our dogs – the ability to form relationships with humans – appears to be no product of their evolution. At least it did not evolve from scratch. Dogs have it, but so, in their way, do wolves.

He’s discussing some research we read about a few days ago at PhysOrg: Human reared wolves found to display signs of attachment and affection towards foster-parents. Wolf pups were able to develop a relationship with the humans who raised them. Klinghoffer thinks this means the end of Darwinism. He declares:

This “affinity” may be more developed in dogs, which is to be expected, but it sounds like the seed is present in wolves. That would suggest it characterized the wild common ancestor of both dogs and wolves that existed 15,000 years ago.

Yes, that’s probably why dogs were first domesticated. The same thing has been demonstrated with foxes — see Russian Domesticated Red Fox. Then he says, with his bracketed addition:

The wolves were not found to be dependent on humans, as dogs are. But this is unsurprising. As geneticist Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig has described, the “evolution” of dogs from wolves “represents no increase in [biological] information but rather a decrease or loss of function on the genetic and anatomical levels” (as we reported here at Evolution News, see “The Dog Delusion”). Meaning no disrespect to them and certainly no lack of affection, but dogs are dependent because they are, in a sense, “degenerate” wolves.

He’s referring to the Discoveroid post we wrote about three years ago, and his expert, Lönnig, is a bit of a creationist. After that authoritative reference, Klinghoffer tells us:

In short, what’s most precious about them was likely there in the pre-dog ancestor. The rest was bred through loss of fitness. All of which is the opposite of what people typically mean when they talk about evolution.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Transforming a wild beast into a domesticated dog isn’t evolution — it’s degeneration. And now we come to the end:

I know, I know – some of this sounds unkind to them. But we love dogs just the same. They are our best friend. What they are not is a legitimate mascot for evolutionary advocates.

So there you are. The Discoveroids still insist that dogs are not the result of evolution — they’re degenerates. Only a fool would use dogs as an example of what selection can do. Nothing is the result of evolution. It’s all about the addition of “information,” something that can only be accomplished by the intelligent designer — blessed be he!

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20 responses to “Discovery Institute: Dogs Are Degenerates, Part 2

  1. Is this another demonstration that intelligent design (by humans) is not able to produce the level of information necessary for macroevolution?

  2. Michael Fugate

    Some people – like ID proponents and other literalist authoritarians – just don’t understand analogies.

  3. Allow me to make a small correction, MichaelF:

    Some people – like ID proponents and other literalist authoritarians – just don’t want to understand analogies

  4. Klingy once again demonstrates his ignorance of the mechanism of selection, either natural or by breeding by humans. Dogs, because of selective breeding by humans, are better adapted to living with humans than wolves are. It hasn’t anything to do with “degeneration”.

  5. BTW, there is an interesting article in Wikipedia about the “Russian Domesticated Red Fox”.

  6. As our Curmudgeon has noted, Klinghoffer has muddled the steps on his own Micro-Macro Mambo–but then, logic and consistency invariably evade Creationist thinking. So which is it, Klingy:

    (a) ‘macro’ evolution only occurs through the application of new ‘information’ via the agency of The Blessed Intelligent Designer by unspecified means of Oogity Boogity,


    (b) potential changes are all front-loaded by the aforesaid Intelligent Designer, and evolution (‘micro’ or ‘macro’) simply releases the ‘information’ that is somehow latent in organisms?

    I won’t wait for your answer, Klinghoffer, because I know in advance it won’t make any sense–as your premises are unjustified tosh.

  7. I marvel that Klingy doesn’t go on with his specious analogy and claim that French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, and Portuguese are merely ‘degenerate’ forms of Latin, and English a ‘degenerate’ form of Anglo-Saxon, and all of the above ‘degenerate’ forms of Indo-European, &c &c.

    And, to work in their beloved analogy with ‘design’, note that the DI does not claim that a Boeing 747 (which no tornado in a junkyard could ever assemble) is a ‘degenerate’ version of the Wright brothers’ biplane–because, presumably, they see this as an example of how new ‘information’ is purposefully introduced by an ‘intelligent’ agent. But that analogy tells us absolutely nothing about what ‘information’ is, or how intelligent agents create it, or why the Wright Bros didn’t make a 747 rather than the modest contraption they briefly flew at Kitty Hawk.

  8. Doesn’t “degenerate” remind one more of what the eugenicists wanted to avert, rather than anything that evolutionists talk about? One should keep a record of this article when that subject comes up.

  9. So the original form of dog was designed with all its pack hunting and killing skills in those pre-death days for what? Hunting raspberries by moonlight?

  10. If dogs are descended from wolves how come there are still wolves?

  11. TomS asks: “If dogs are descended from wolves how come there are still wolves?”

    Apparently there’s no problem with wolves’ existence along with dogs — their degenerate offspring. It’s the same reason there are still monkeys. We’ve lost the ability to live in trees, so we’re degenerate monkeys.

  12. Our Curmudgeon persuasively theorises:

    We’ve lost the ability to live in trees, so we’re degenerate monkeys.

    And, by way of a further data point offered as supporting evidence: the ability to fling poo is present in monkeys–but was clearly placed there as a ‘seed’ by the beneficient Intelligent Designer (Blessed be He/She/It/Them!) in anticipation of the eventual degeneration of some into Creationists.

  13. Mega forgets about one of the two other tenets of creacrap:

    “English a ‘degenerate’ form of Anglo-Saxon”
    Languages are intelligently designed. Intelligent designers are totally capable of adding information. This is Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy in full flight.
    Why the Grand Old Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It) didn’t deem it necessary or desirable to grace Canis Lupus Familiaris with extra information, allowing this noble animal, that serves Homo Sapiens better than Homo Sapiens serves the Grand Old Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It), is for the theologians to find out. It has nothing to do with the pseudoscience called Idiocy. Says Klinkleclapper.

  14. Holding The Line In Florida

    “We’ve lost the ability to live in trees, so we’re degenerate monkeys.” says our most wise SC. Well, then I proudly proclaim “Ook! Ook!” in emulation of my noble Simian betters! Long may they set a higher standard for us degenerates!

  15. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig is a Jehovah’s Witness, in fact an elder in one of their congregations. Sure enough, he has been quoted in Watchtower literature as a supposed authority on how silly evolution is. Here is one of several JW articles quoting their great in-house expert Lönnig (

    “Unfathomable Complexities of Life”


    PROFILE: Over the past 28 years, I have done scientific work dealing with genetic mutation in plants. For 21 of those years, I have been employed by the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, in Cologne, Germany. For almost three decades, I have also served as an elder in a Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    My empirical research in genetics and my studies of biological subjects such as physiology and morphology bring me face-to-face with the enormous and often unfathomable complexities of life. My study of these topics has reinforced my conviction that life, even the most basic forms of life, must have an intelligent origin.

    The scientific community is well aware of the complexity found in life. But these fascinating facts are generally presented in a strong evolutionary context. In my mind, however, the arguments against the Bible account of creation fall apart when subjected to scientific scrutiny. I have examined such arguments over decades. After much careful study of living things and consideration of the way the laws governing the universe seem perfectly adjusted so that life on earth can exist, I am compelled to believe in a Creator.

  16. WELL ! This explains a lot. You see I just came back from Glacier National Park. Grizzly bear experts strongly suggest not hiking with your DOG in bruin country. Apparently when confronted with an 800 pound grizzly, dogs tend to want to rejoin their pack, meaning you. The result is they will lead the bear, now very ticked off, straight back to you at maximum speed. Which apparently is very bad. Apparently Meyers is correct ! Dogs actually are degenerates. Just like he is.

  17. Ross Cameron

    ‘In truth, for all the undoubted charms of dogs, their breeding is nothing other than degeneration.’ You mean God created species that degenerated? Intelligent Design failed? Mankind can triumph over the divine? Who`d a thunk it?

  18. Eric Lipps

    How is it “degeneration” or “loss of function” for dogs to adapt to a new environment in which they can depend on humans to provide care, feeding and protection by adopting traits which encourage humans to do so?

  19. @Eric, a better example to understand this mind boggling creationist defense would be to consider the loss of sight in certain cave dwelling animals. Eyeballs require a large investment for an organism to produce and also create vulnerability so many cave dwellers devolve their eyes. This is how, what I’d call educated creationists like Dr. Georgia Purdom, believe evolution works: deletions from God’s perfect design.
    Test with dogs have shown that they are better observers of non-verbal human cues than their wolfy brethren. How this would be considered “degeneration” is beyond me.

  20. obviously, wolves have the ability to ignore human cues, which they lost when they became dogs.