Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kin selection, e. coli, and lying

Altruism is a huge problem for Darwin's theory.  Human society and the natural world are full of selfless acts-- from young men giving their lives on Omaha beach to save total strangers to insects sacrificing to serve their colony.  This of course is a defeater for Darwinism, which asserts that all adaptations evolved to maximize reproductive success.

Internment in Arlington National Cemetery is evidence for many things-- heroism, love,  the last full measure of devotion.  It is not reproductive success.  Why do the best of mankind sacrifice for others?

Christianity provides the obvious answer: we are made in God's image, and at our best we imitate Him.  He sacrificed His own life out of love for us all. The graves at Arlington rightfully are covered with crosses.

Darwinism, a lie, is a fecund lie.  Darwinists are a dull lot, but given time, they can explain anything. As you might expect, they have tried to explain away the utter contradiction of altruism for their theory.

They have hypothesized about kin selection (your genes give your life to save your kin's genes), reciprocal altruism (I'll give my genes if you'll give yours), the Potlatch Effect (I'm so superior to you that I can sacrifice for you), etc. etc.

Kin selection, the most widely endorsed Darwinian evasion of altruism's defeat of evolutionary theory, has a problem, though.  In the theory of kin selection,  genes can propagate if they use the organism as a vehicle to enhance the propagation of identical genes in other organisms. Kin will have more nearly identical genomes than non-related, so we are 'programmed' by our genes to be altruistic to close relatives. And the closer, the more altruistic.

There are of course all kinds of problems with this. Parents share the same fraction of genome with children  as siblings share with each other, but sibling altruism is substantially less intense than parental altruism.

But the catastrophe for kin selection is asexual reproduction. If a parent will give his life for Darwinian reasons to save his kids, who only share half his genomes,  imagine the altruism of bacteria, who are surrounded by billions of identical copies of themselves! Bacterial reproduce asexually, and their kin selection and altruism should be intense. As philosopher David Stove, author of Darwinian Fairytales, notes wryly,  bacteria should be so altruistic that they couldn't even decide who should go through a door first.

Yet Darwinists assert that bacterial evolution by natural selection-- the competitive struggle for existence-- is prime evidence for Darwinism. Antibiotic resistance and all that.

Darwinists deflect the obvious observation that altruism is a defeater for Darwin's theory. It can't be rescued by kin selection, which, if true, would virtually eliminate evolution in asexually reproducing organisms.

Darwinists implicitly exempt asexually reproducing organisms from kin selection theory.

Now if humble me (and others) see this contradiction, certainly the bright lights of evolutionary biology noticed it too. But they are silent. They apply kin selection when it advances their ideology, and fall silent when it doesn't.

Darwin's theory isn't just bad science.  It's a lie.

25 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Why don't you read Carl Zimmer's book 'Microcosm'? He explains at great length the altruism in bacteria. Most bacteria don't live singly. They live in communities, multicellular prokaryotes in fact. Most of the bacteria in the communities share most of their genes, and exchange of genes through horizontal gene transfer, even between bacteria of different species, is the rule. One bacterium in a multicellular community sacrificing itself is actually helping bacteria with the same genes survive. It's similar to the process of apoptosis, single cell death, in humans and other animals, where damaged cells self destruct painlessly without inducing damaging inflammation which may damage surrounding healthy cells.

    I surprised that a neurosurgeon wouldn't know this. It's pretty basic stuff.

    Self sacrifice in humans isn't hard to explain. We are social animals. Throughout most of our evolutionary history, we lived in small groups, all of whom were related by kinship, so it's not surprising that altruism would be selected for. If you help a member of your group, you're also helping copies of your genes to survive.

    Self sacrifice in battle might seem difficult to explain, but it isn't actually. Most soldiers don't think that they're going to die in battle. So most who perform heroic deeds in battle think that they're going to gain from decorations for bravery. Even a soldier who throws himself on a live hand grenade to save his buddies is probably thinking 'I'm going to die anyway, so I might as well get the postmortem praise, it might help my dependents'.

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  2. @bachfiend

    As Dr. Egnor said, Darwinists are a dull lot, but given time, they can explain anything.

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  3. Pepe,

    There's no one as dull as someone who refuses to look at facts.

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  4. Kudos once again, Dr Egnor.
    Brilliantly put.
    I would also pose the logical question, to adherents of fantasies like 'Kin selection': How do the Genes KNOW the other person is a sibling?
    Also the moral question: Is this to be the latest scientific excuse for intolerance and bigotry. Will racist founders of your 'theories' be expunged and absolved of their sin by 'Kin Selection'?

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  5. @Bachfiend,
    Cell death as altruism? Wow. That is a stretch.
    What a desperate defence you employ. It is what we would term, in military cirlces, a 'snowjob'. You expect to bury the logic in incongruous factoids? Bacterial colonies? Organic cell death? LOL! Not here, oh lover of Fugues. (I am guessing/hoping that is what the Bach ref is)
    You also write:
    [..]Throughout most of our evolutionary history, we lived in small groups, all of whom were related by kinship, so it's not surprising that altruism would be selected for. If you help a member of your group, you're also helping copies of your genes to survive.
    Those proteins are ALIVE you know, and they KNOW who your relatives are!
    Now.. to the meat: I have 2 post-grad degrees in History and have never seen a department of 'evolutionary history' in all the schools and Academies I worked with (UK, Canada, USA, even MEXICO).
    Why is that? Aha, I know! Because what your talking about is PRE history and ALL of that is 80% conjecture. Fascinating stuff, but not at all how you paint it. Small groups? You mean less than 7 million in a city...sure! What a profound observation! Although we are locating more and more 'pre catastrophe' (IE Antediluvian) settlements that seem to have had tens and hundreds of thousands of inhabitants THOUSANDS of years before our current history.
    I know this cyclical idea (rise and fall)very scary to materialists who think progress and tech are linear...but it really isn't.
    Your 'science' is not an oracle, Bachfiend.
    Your response, though passionate - and I believe well intended, is simply more pretensions and outright misrepresentation of the KNOWN facts; and it is not surprising.
    A falling fortress requires a desperate defence when surrender is not an option. I think the real issue here with the 'lies' is that this particular vehicle for ideology (Darwinism for Materialism) is in it's final 'Berlin Bunker' moments.

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  6. Bachfiend wrote:
    Self sacrifice in battle might seem difficult to explain, but it isn't actually. Most soldiers don't think that they're going to die in battle. So most who perform heroic deeds in battle think that they're going to gain from decorations for bravery. Even a soldier who throws himself on a live hand grenade to save his buddies is probably thinking 'I'm going to die anyway, so I might as well get the postmortem praise, it might help my dependents'.
    Really? Not difficult to explain?
    Spoken like a coddled civilian. My men call people like you 'sheep', and I reprimand them for it - like an idiot.
    My immediate reaction to this section of the post is a visceral one. The notions suggested offend me as a serving officer in a NATO military force, and a combat veteran of 3 conflicts, from a military family with an adult son active right now.
    Your assertions on the military mind bely a TOTAL lack of understanding of conflict, war, and I may suggest COURAGE. 'Oh well, I am going to die anyway'? What the ****? You think they are playing video games? That they can 'respawn' or pop in another coin? They think they are not going to die? Maybe that's why they mess themselves in fear when going into combat?
    If you are a youth, bachfiend, I STRONGLY suggest you rethink this position; it is one of an ingrate.
    If you are not.... for shame.

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  7. Oh and just another thought: ADOPTION.

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  8. @bachfiend

    [Why don't you read Carl Zimmer's book 'Microcosm'?]

    Zimmer is a lay science writer with a BA in English. I want to see a scientific reply to the problem that asexual reproduction poses to kin selection. Journal, issue, page, please.

    [He explains at great length the altruism in bacteria. Most bacteria don't live singly. They live in communities, multicellular prokaryotes in fact. Most of the bacteria in the communities share most of their genes, and exchange of genes through horizontal gene transfer, even between bacteria of different species, is the rule. One bacterium in a multicellular community sacrificing itself is actually helping bacteria with the same genes survive.]

    So natural selection among bacteria isn't a significant factor in bacterial evolution?

    [It's similar to the process of apoptosis, single cell death, in humans and other animals, where damaged cells self destruct painlessly without inducing damaging inflammation which may damage surrounding healthy cells.]

    So normal physiology in a multicellular organism is kin selection? Journal, issue, date, page, please.

    [I surprised that a neurosurgeon wouldn't know this. It's pretty basic stuff.]

    I know that 'evolutionary theory' is an infinitely malleable fiction, and that evolutionary biologists (and their groupies) have no shame making up stories with abandon. Anything that helps the cause, eh, comrade?

    [Self sacrifice in humans isn't hard to explain.]

    With evolution, nothing is hard to explain. That's the way it is with banal tautologies.

    [We are social animals. Throughout most of our evolutionary history, we lived in small groups, all of whom were related by kinship, so it's not surprising that altruism would be selected for. If you help a member of your group, you're also helping copies of your genes to survive.]

    So there was no evolution by NS within groups?

    [Self sacrifice in battle might seem difficult to explain, but it isn't actually.]

    Darwin's theory is so malleable that it is utterly meaningless. If the 'theory' explains competition to the death, and self-sacrifice, simultaneously, it is junk science.

    [Most soldiers don't think that they're going to die in battle. So most who perform heroic deeds in battle think that they're going to gain from decorations for bravery. Even a soldier who throws himself on a live hand grenade to save his buddies is probably thinking 'I'm going to die anyway, so I might as well get the postmortem praise, it might help my dependents'.]

    I agree with cursadeRex. What a stupid thing to say. It demeans the men who serve. I was a soldier (never in combat). Soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice generally do so out of love for their buddies. The sense of mutual loyalty is intense. It has nothing to do with 'descendants' or 'postmortem praise'. It has to do with a deep bond between soldiers in combat.

    Darwinism is an insult to man.

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  9. Christianity provides the obvious answer: we are made in God's image, and at our best we imitate Him.

    Human self-sacrifice? Gods work! Killing spree with 84 dead? Well we were born in sin. Talk about malleable...

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  10. Parents share the same fraction of genome with children as siblings share with each other, but sibling altruism is substantially less intense than parental altruism.
    Yet it explains why there is parental and sibling altruism and why it is stronger than intra-familiar cooperation. Christianity offers preciously little insight into why that is.

    And here is your paper regarding cooperation in bacteria:
    Microbial Communication, Cooperation and Cheating: Quorum Sensing Drives the Evolution of Cooperation in Bacteria

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  11. @anon:

    Oh. A computer model is the best evolutionary biologists can do. I can make a computer model of design. In fact, all computer models presuppose design. How so? Show me a computer model in which no part (program, hardware, hypothesis, etc) was designed.

    So this computer model demonstrates that 150 years of NS as an explanation for bacterial adaptation is incorrect? When will the retraction of the core argument of Darwin's theory appear in the literature?

    Or are you just making up stories-- bacteria compete, bacteria cooperate-- to fit any reality. If so, how is it that Darwinian evolution is a theory, given that it predicts anything?

    You guys are a parody of science.

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  12. @anon:

    [Christianity provides the obvious answer: we are made in God's image, and at our best we imitate Him.

    Human self-sacrifice? Gods work! Killing spree with 84 dead? Well we were born in sin. Talk about malleable..]

    If you're asserting that Darwinism is a religious viewpoint, I agree wholeheartedly.

    My argument against evolutionary 'science' is this:

    1) It's junk science, because it explains anything.
    2) It's really a religion. It's atheism's creation myth.

    Now, Christianity explains human evil. It's not intended to be natural science, but something much more important: a basic truth about man.

    Man is created by God with an intrinsic knowledge of good and evil. Man is also created by God with free will. We can choose good or evil, and sometimes we choose good (self-sacrifice) and sometimes we choose evil (mass murder).

    Darwinism tries to explain both in the context of natural science. It fails, miserably. It's pretty stupid religion, too.

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  13. Christianity provides the obvious answer: we are made in God's image, and at our best we imitate Him.

    Human self-sacrifice? Gods work! Killing spree with 84 dead? Well we were born in sin. Talk about malleable...


    Which part of "at our best" did you fail to comprehend?

    It appears that you judge belief systems by bodycount. Does ~100 million dead under avowedly atheist regimes in the 20th century count for anything in your calculus of judgment? Or are you just blowing smoke?

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  14. Michael,

    Please provide references in the science literature supporting your position that Christianity is the best explanation of self-sacrifice and altruism. You're just making up a story.

    My reference to Carl Zimmer's book is reasonable. Even a neurosurgeon should be able to understand it. It's based on current science. It's actually aimed at your readers, including CrusadeREX, who is apparently a historian, but who thinks that the Flood is actually history...

    Apoptosis is relevant to any discussion of bacteria. It's the mitochondria that cause the self-destruction of the cell, and they're just commensalism bacteria which took up residence in other cells 2 billion years ago.

    Matteo, I personally don't judge belief systems by body count, whatever belief systems mean. You believe God explains everything. I think that there's no evidence for any god, the proof still has to be supplied, and I know that science works, giving a richer and much more verifiable view of the Universe than any revelation in any sacred text.

    But getting back to your claim of 100 million deaths under avowedly atheistic regimes in the 20th century. How do you get your figures? Hitler was nominally a Catholic, but I accept that he wasn't a true one. Himmler was a practicing Catholic. Most of the Germans were believers. Stalin was an atheist, but I can't see how the 27 million deaths that the Soviets suffered during WWII can be ascribed to the atheist camp, if there is such a thing. The Japanese were shintoist with emperor worship, and they caused almost as many deaths in China as the Germans caused in Europe, so you'd have to put their death toll in the theistic camp. Or are you defining non-Christian religions as atheism?

    Dictatorships do their brutal atrocities for many reasons. Religion or atheism is seldom the cause. It's usually the urge for power and resources.

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  15. @bachfiend:

    [Please provide references in the science literature supporting your position that Christianity is the best explanation of self-sacrifice and altruism]

    Christianity isn't a scientific theory, and science isn't the standard by which to understand altruism. Darwinism claims to be science, but it's a bastard religion.

    [My reference to Carl Zimmer's book is reasonable. Even a neurosurgeon should be able to understand it. It's based on current science.]

    But either way you lose. My point isn't that kin selection is wrong, or that NS is wrong, just that for bacteria they both can't be right.

    Bacteria reproduce asexually and members of a colony share essentially 100% of their genomes. If kin selection is true, they should intensely cooperate. If NS is true, they should intensely compete. The fact that evolutionary theory accommodates both views means that evolutionary theory is nonsense.

    [Apoptosis is relevant to any discussion of bacteria. It's the mitochondria that cause the self-destruction of the cell, and they're just commensalism bacteria which took up residence in other cells 2 billion years ago.]

    And the relevance of that to kin selection in bacteria? You Darwinists seem to have no sense of what constitutes scientific evidence for a theory.

    [Matteo, I personally don't judge belief systems by body count, whatever belief systems mean.]

    You really don't know what "belief systems mean"? No wonder you're a Darwinist. And I do judge belief systems by body count, in context. i don't like belief systems that are invariably associated with mass murder. 'We are atheists and we govern this country' is a very lethal phenomenon.


    [You believe God explains everything. I think that there's no evidence for any god, the proof still has to be supplied,]

    Everything is evidence for God. You're blind to it. See Aquinas' Five Ways.

    [and I know that science works, giving a richer and much more verifiable view of the Universe than any revelation in any sacred text.]

    Science is evidence for God.

    [But getting back to your claim of 100 million deaths under avowedly atheistic regimes in the 20th century. How do you get your figures?]

    Here. (http://www.amazon.com/Black-Book-Communism-Crimes-Repression/dp/0674076087.)

    100 million is a low estimate. Many scholars put it quite a bit higher- up to 150 million.


    [Hitler was nominally a Catholic, but I accept that he wasn't a true one.]

    Hitler wasn't even a nominal Catholic. The first time he killed an innocent person, he committed a mortal sin and was no longer in communion with the Church. Catholic is practice, not ethnicity.

    [Himmler was a practicing Catholic.]

    Himmler was an enthusiastic pagan-- the most enthusiastic pagan among the Nazi leadership. He was not a Catholic, or a Christian of any sort.

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  16. (continued)

    [Most of the Germans were believers.]

    Germany has a 1500 year history of Christianity. Most ordinary Germans were Christians. Duh.

    In 1933, Germany was taken over by a pagan cult who worshiped blood, soil, race, and power. Not Christ.

    [Stalin was an atheist...almost as many deaths in China as the Germans caused in Europe, so you'd have to put their death toll in the theistic camp. Or are you defining non-Christian religions as atheism?]

    Humans are violent. Violence has been committed in the name of theism, atheism, and every imaginable ideology.

    The fact remains that there have been only a limited number of nations governed by explicitly atheist ideologies-- the French Cult of Reason and Communism. The results in all countries governed by atheist ideologies has been totalitarianism and murder. The body count is now well above 100 million, and continuing (North Korea).

    I hate Communism, and I believe that atheism inevitably leads to tyranny of the communist sort. You bastards had your chance, and you gave us Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, etc.

    I will fight atheism and communism as long as I draw breath.

    [Dictatorships do their brutal atrocities for many reasons. Religion or atheism is seldom the cause. It's usually the urge for power and resources.]

    The difference is that the only form of government atheism has produced is an atrocity.

    Christianity has a better record (We hold these Truths to be self-evident.. and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights...)

    As I said, I think that atheism is a stupid ideology, and it is a murderous governing ideology. I'll never stop fighting you bastards.

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  17. Michael,

    Atheism isn't an ideology. It's an absence of belief in gods. If you're calling me a bastard, then you're a bastard (and an idiot).

    It's the responsibility of humans as social primates to decide on rational grounds how to govern ourselves so that all humans achieve the maximum equitable happiness that's sustainable.

    Christianity, as a death cult, eagerly awaiting the Rapture and the destruction of the Earth, as revealed in your sacred test 'Revelations', isn't concerned with the long term.

    Goodbye.

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  18. Indeed it is true that atheism is not an ideology, it is the ideology.

    Are there any other mere animals that have any responsibilities whatsoever? What is it that makes Man different that he should have responsibilities?

    The name for the absence of belief in gods is "total indifference". Etymologically, a-theism is the presence of belief that there are no gods, just as a-gnosticism is the presence of belief that there can be no knowledge one way or another on the question.

    Actually a-theism is not quite an accurate term for the New Atheists. Misotheism is closer to the truth.

    If you disagree with the definition of a-theism, then don't take it up with me, take it up with Webster's Dictionary.

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  19. "He sacrificed His own life out of love for us all."

    Help me out here. He sent himself down to earth, got himself nailed to a cross, then poofed himself back up to heaven to sit at his own right hand forever in glory. Huh?

    Okay . . . he wasted a weekend hanging out in a dingy tomb. So?

    I guess that's the sort of antics that imaginary sky fairies get up to.

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  20. Bacteria reproduce asexually and members of a colony share essentially 100% of their genomes. If kin selection is true, they should intensely cooperate. If NS is true, they should intensely compete.

    This is a false dichotomy. Kin Selection is a behavior that isn't either fully present or fully absent. Why should it be? Here is some more information about bacterial cooperation Quorum sensing.

    The fact that evolutionary theory accommodates both views means that evolutionary theory is nonsense.

    This is non sequitur. Physics explain why some things are on the ground and some things are in the air, this doesn't mean that physics is nonsense.

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. Bachfiend wrote:
    "It's actually aimed at your readers, including CrusadeREX, who is apparently a historian, but who thinks that the Flood is actually history..."
    Are you suggesting that there was no catastrophic flooding and earth changes in our early and pre-history? Are you suggesting (as a non historian) that the recent finds in the Black Sea, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean are FAKES or Hoaxes? Or perhaps the innumerable legends of varied cultures of great burnings and floods were just drug trips or episodes of epilepsy? never mind the RUINS.
    OR... Maybe the ancients were all in a neo-con movement/conspiracy designed to counter your 'progressive' materialist notions of future worship? Maybe the oceans were in on it too?
    I did not mention THE flood, but rather FLOODED ruins and cyclical rise and fall of civilizations (you do not address that at ALL, BF).
    But I suppose the shocker to you is that a Christian or Jew would believe the word of his ancestors, archaeology, history and his God over a modern day biologist's IRRELEVANT observations that surviving organisms indeed survive and pass on traits? Well be shocked then!

    BF continues:
    "Christianity, as a death cult, eagerly awaiting the Rapture and the destruction of the Earth, as revealed in your sacred test 'Revelations', isn't concerned with the long term."
    Death cult? Rapture?
    Perhaps Bach means he is frightened by his own mortality? Bach, you have a total lack of understanding the concept of the Resurrection and of the puritanical/protestant doctrines.
    You also seem to have no idea what a 'cult' is. But that does not surprise me, as your position is one of obvious, flagrant, and wilful ignorance. Your Nero-esque sneer does not cut it as a rebuttal or refutation, I am afraid.

    Finally, BF signs of with:
    "Atheism isn't an ideology. It's an absence of belief in gods. If you're calling me a bastard, then you're a bastard (and an idiot)."
    I agree on the first part, atheism is not an ideology any more than morning sickness results in a birth. It is a SYMPTOM of an ideological dysfunction or formation; a lack of basic understanding and a growing belief in NOTHING.
    Atheism has always been a tool, never the hand that guides it. On this I agree with BF.
    It may be a motivator (as nausea can be), but it is not the cause of the retching.
    I mean, think about it, it is a detraction and reduction of know realities. It is too monistic and limited to provide the underpinning of full blown ideology.
    Atheism is just a PART of an ideology, and that ideology varies from right (Nazi esque) to left (Communist) - but always seems to have same hallmarks: Racialism (seeks homogeneous mass / caste system), eugenics ('soft' or forced), and braod materialism, also of Hero or Leader (celebrity) worship. I could list more 'symptoms', but I think my point is made on this.
    As for the 'bastard' comments, the Doctor's ref to 'you bastards' is a reference to your position, not you personally. At least that is how I read it, knowing (or starting to) the Doctor's style. Sure brought out your true colours, though BF, didn't it?

    Bachfiend wrote:
    "Goodbye"
    I guess he was a victim of blogging NS.
    Aufedersein, Mein Herr.

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  23. @bachfiend:

    I didn't mean that you are a bastard personally. It was a figure of speech, and I apologize for using it. I enjoy and respect your conversation, although of course we disagree.

    [It's the responsibility of humans as social primates to decide on rational grounds how to govern ourselves so that all humans achieve the maximum equitable happiness that's sustainable.]

    Atheism offers no objective morality. So it's not the "responsibility" of humans to do anything. It's just atoms in the void, struggle for existence, etc. One of the worst things about atheism is its banality.

    @anon:[ This is a false dichotomy. Kin Selection is a behavior that isn't either fully present or fully absent. Why should it be?]

    The problem is that kin selection is invoked to explain sacrifice in sexually reproducing organisms because closely related organisms share up to half their genes.

    The paradox is that if kin selection theory is true, then asexually reproducing organisms (bacteria) that share nearly all of their genes should be intensely altruistic. If you're a bacterium, and you sacrifice yourself to save your colony, you've saved trillions of copies of yourself.

    Here's the contradiction: classical evolutionary theory describes bacterial evolution in strongly competitive ways. Small differences in fitness are proposed to account for microbial evolution.

    In fact, such dynamics have been observed (one of the rare situations in which evolutionary 'theory' is confirmed experimentally).

    But what about kin selection? Because bacteria are surrounded by trillions of nearly exact copies, they should be sacrificing with abandon, not competing. Competition among asexually reproducing organisms should be virtually non-existent, because self-sacrifice of one bacterium to save others saves trillions of more copies of that bacterium's genes than competition would save.

    If kin selection theory is true, then virtually all selection in asexually reproducing organisms should be altruistic kin selection, not competition.

    Your theory is incoherent.

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  24. Looks like I got spam filtered :P

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  25. Bach the theory being discussed is yours to defend, and you are correct: It does not hold water.

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