Faith vs Facts – Craig Venter

Initially, I have been planning to do an OP on the amazing abilities of plants to “resolve the mathematical equations” in quantum photosynthesis…However, since another issue was raised in one of the last OPs, I’d thought it would be a great opportunity to keep the flow of the same theme going…

In the OP “On variant genetic codes”  the author has presented his case that Craig Venter’s doubt for common descent based solely on the genetic code variants (back in 2011 there were 18 of them) is not enough to doubt common descent…
Based on the discussion that took place at the University of Arizona back in 2011, do you get the impression that Craig Venter’s doubt for common descent is based solely on the fact that there are genetic code variants? I don’t … but you’d judge it for yourself:

For those who have been following at least a few of the experimental scientists like Venter know that the genetic code variations in life forms is just the tip of the iceberg that makes one like Venter doubt not only common descent but Darwinism first and foremost…

To put simply, in Venter’s attempts to re-create some of the “simpler” life forms by sequencing and digitizing their genomes, knocking out the genes that ‘may not be essential’, one by one, and re-creating “synthetic genomes” to be put back in the living cell… the idea of common ancestor and Darwinian mechanism of evolution simply does’t add up…

Why?

By playing this game, Venter and his team have realized that differences among even the “simplest” of life forms are so staggering that they could not have had a common ancestor… In the video, Venter refers to an organism that lives in’ Ph 12 base that would dissolve Davies skin…’ Therefore he knows that the tree of life is an artifact pushed by Darwinists with no evidence for it… If one follows many of Venter’s public statements, his doubt of common descent can be summarized by this:

” …One question is, can we extrapolate back from this data set to describe the most recent common ancestor. I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common…”

Venter’s counterintuition toward common descent comes from his experimental evidence which is different than speculations about what natural selection can do:

“If it is not impssible, than natural selection (natural process) did it…”

This belief represents that great faith that many Darwinists have in common descent pictured as a tree of life and the creative evolutionary mechanisms…

Venter, and a few scientists like him, challenged this faith by experiments by the attempts to reconstruct some of the supposed evolutionary processes… Darwinism and common descent have not withstand those experimental tests and have to be rejected…

” VENTER: Maybe I come at this as a basic experimentalist — the theory behind theory is that you come up with truly testable ideas. Otherwise it’s no different than faith. It might as well be a religion if there’s no evidence for it. So how do you get it past your religion phase? ” here

These are the facts…
How do you get it past religion or faith in common descent and Darwinism? You move past the unfounded speculations and provide testable ideas… Can Darwinist deliver?

Over the next few OPs, I hope to present some of those facts and both shed serious doubt on common descent and Darwinism…

67 thoughts on “Faith vs Facts – Craig Venter

  1. Over the next few OPs, I hope to present some of those facts and both shed serious doubt on common descent and Darwinism…

    I’d much rather see an OP on which creatures are descended from a common ancestor and why anyone ought to think that they are.

    Until we understand what the evidence for common descent consists of, why people actually believe some organisms are descended from a common ancestor, how do we know what to think of supposed reasons to doubt?

  2. Mung: I’d much rather see an OP on which creatures are descended from a common ancestor and why anyone ought to think that they are.

    I don’t have this kind of evidence…Do you?
    If you are talking about the descent of wolf to cayote… you don’t need me… Just ask a low-level biologist working for the city… They know…

  3. Two issues:
    1. Is there a tree of life that is exactly and in all parts a branching tree? Answer: no, and we’ve known that ever since hybrid species were first noticed.
    2. Is there a common genealogy of life, with some loops in it? Answer, as far as we can tell, yes.

    Venter is rejecting #1. Dawkins is asking if anyone disagrees with #2.

  4. J-Mac: I don’t have this kind of evidence…Do you?

    What evidence do you have that each species that exists today were specially created, poofed into existence without ancestors? Assuming evidence actually matters to you.

    And if you don’t know what the evidence for common descent looks like how on earth do you propose to challenge it?

    I can already envision my response to your forthcoming OP. Whatever you write I am going to ask how it addresses the evidence for common descent. Your answer, I expect, will be that it doesn’t, because there is no evidence for common descent. In which case whatever you have come up will have posed no challenge to common descent and will thus provide no reason for doubt. Assuming reason actually matters.

    Why doesn’t HGT destroy the tree pattern of nested similarities?

  5. Joe Felsenstein:
    Two issues:
    1. Is there a tree of life that is exactly and in all parts a branching tree?Answer: no, and we’ve known that ever since hybrid species were first noticed.
    2. Is there a common genealogy of life, with some loops in it?Answer, as far as we can tell, yes.

    Venter is rejecting #1.Dawkins is asking if anyone disagrees with #2.

    Wow!!! You really have been thinking about this, Joe… I’m impressed… I mean it…

    #2 is a very good question for the discussion here… We could begin with:
    What did Venter mean by the “Bush of Life”? Maybe we should ask Larry Moran? He seems to agree with Venter… He is not stupid…Quite the opposite… He could give us some clues…

  6. As I posted in the other thread, Craig Venter doesn’t deny common descent. I have only ever seen Craig venter be unclear (as he was in that panel discussion with Dawkins), I have never seen him actually deny common descent. Not that it really matters, because then he’d just be wrong.

    But here he is affirming common descent to none other than Richard Dawkins, on the basis of the genetic code: https://youtu.be/3E25jgPgmzk?t=525

    Also a funny comment by Craig Venter in that interview, near the end of the video Dawkins asks him: “How do you deal with the people who say you shouldn’t be playing God with biology?”
    Craig Venter: “I don’t play mythical beings.”

  7. Mung: What evidence do you have that each species that exists today were specially created, poofed into existence without ancestors? Assuming evidence actually matters to you.

    Can anybody, including Venter, create a new species?
    We would have to begin with what constitutes a new species…
    Is coywolf a new species? It yes, it has been “created” by the process of breaking the genes of the Dog Kind with the wolf being the starting point… Is that evolution? Do you need evidence?

  8. Mung: Why doesn’t HGT destroy the tree pattern of nested similarities?

    Is the bush of life distroying the patter of “nested similarities”?
    Can you extrapolate the same pattern if you ignore evolution and take ID similarities into accont only?

  9. Mung,

    Behe supports common descent…
    Why?
    I think he does’t have enough to distroy it in his books…
    I have something that may change his mind…

  10. J-Mac: Is the bush of life distroying the patter of “nested similarities”?

    No.

    Can you extrapolate the same pattern if you ignore evolution and take ID similarities into accont only?
    What does it mean to “take ID similarities into account only”? Elaborate please.

  11. Some people seem to care what Venter thinks about common descent. I’m not one of them. How does the argument go, anyways?

    Venter doubts common descent. Therefore, you should doubt common descent too. Rumraket does not doubt common descent. Therefore you should not doubt common descent either.

    Perhaps we should take a poll.

    Rumraket: As I posted in the other thread, Craig Venter doesn’t deny common descent.

    Some of us here appreciate your concern for the truth. 🙂

  12. Mung:
    Some people seem to care what Venter thinks about common descent. I’m not one of them. How does the argument go, anyways?

    Venter doubts common descent. Therefore, you should doubt common descent too. Rumraket does not doubt common descent. Therefore you should not doubt common descent either.

    Perhaps we should take a poll.

    Some of us here appreciate your concern for the truth. 🙂

    How many people here or anywhere have tried to prove evolution by experiments?
    How many people here or anywhere have tried to prove evolution by experiments and have begun to doubt common descent and Darwinism due to those very experiments?
    Some just can’t seem to lie to themselves no matter how much money they are paid or how much they can lose…

  13. I’m a bit disappointed with the video. It cuts off at what appears to be a rather critical juncture.

  14. J-Mac: How many people here or anywhere have tried to prove evolution by experiments?

    At last count, two million, three hundred and sixty-four thousand.

    J-Mac: How many people here or anywhere have tried to prove evolution by experiments and have begun to doubt common descent and Darwinism due to those very experiments?

    At last count, zero.

  15. Joe Felsenstein: The full panel discussion is here. Let us know what you find.

    Thank you for the link. I found the opening comment absolutely hilarious. We don’t need to define life, we must simply go out and look for it. The audience laughed.

    When computers become conscious, which they will. More laughter.

  16. This dude is not rejecting common descent. Just a tree of relationship. Instead he says its a bush.
    Compared to discussions on TSZ you can see how inferior this panel deals with all this.
    Being geneically related, however snug, is not evidence for why its related. Its not proof for evolution. Once again Dawkins etc here dismiss, or don’t imagine, that common design from God would likely also be this way.
    Indeed otherwise if God created biology he would be forced to make it, at the gene level, in some chaotic equations UNLIKE everything else in the universe.
    As in physics so in biology. Great common laws can be behind biology which would mean like genetic relationships.
    As in chemistry the elements can be in spectrums due to atoms etc and do not need to be chaotic to prove a creator.
    They imagine God does not have a option for order at the gene level in biology and so convince themselves likeness in genes PROVES evolution.
    Nope. It just proves a genetic relationship.
    Its also a option that within genes are hidden abilities to instantly change bodyplans. Like those sea creatures who do it on a whim. They can do it and why not everyone.
    Those dudes should come to mTSZ. Sharpen them up.
    It sounds lame inferior to me to listen to those evolutionists.
    Creationists easily can knock them out before great audiences.
    Just need audiences.

  17. Mung:
    I’m a bit disappointed with the video. It cuts off at what appears to be a rather critical juncture.

    That is exactly the point I made to commence my own OP. Instead of peer-reviewed actual research, we get a fade on an uncomfortable grin, and allusion to the fact that the grinner has a lab.

  18. To repeat points made elsewhere, how is HGT even possible among unrelated organisms? HGT cannot be evidence against common descent, at a quite fundamental level.

  19. The organisms that live in ph12, that would ‘dissolve Davies’ skin’ are hardly sound evidence against common descent either. I’m quite sure I couldn’t survive in many environments – up Venter’s backside, to pick an example entirely at random. But some organisms do.

  20. If the idea of common descent and Darwinism does not “add up” then why does J-Mac keep talking about it?

    If common descent and Darwinism is so absurd, why does J-Mac keep bringing it up?

    If Intelligent Design Creationism can explain the origin of species then why does J-Mac not talk about that instead?

    We get that you think Darwinism is bunk J-Mac, but it seems you keep coming back to it. Why?

    Why don’t you focus on what you believe to be true, rather then what you know to be false?

    The best way to convince a scientist that they are wrong is not to pick holes in what they currently hold but to demonstrate that you have a more productive idea.

    So why don’t you create an OP on how Intelligent Design Creationism explains and indeed predicts what we observe in biology/DNA et al?

    Or is picking holes in something you already believe is incorrect the best you can do?

    Stop harping on the negative case, nobody cares about wrong ideas. Make a positive case instead, for once.

    Challenge: Create an OP that gives IDC predictions and explanations regarding extant biology/DNA without mentioning evolution or Darwinism once.

    Bet you any amount you can’t do it. You don’t have a positive case, all you have is a negative one. You simply cannot talk about IDC on it’s own, you are compelled to bring in Darwinism. It’s a parasitical relationship.

  21. OMagain,

    I’m always amused by the common failure to recognise the double standard – if experimental evidence is the ultimate in proof, where is the experimental evidence for Design? Turns out it’s an inference from data – a ‘speculation’, if you will.

    lol, dot-dot-dot and so on…

  22. Allan Miller,

    You characterize Venter’s pH12 comment as “hardly sound evidence against common descent”. I would go further: it is a complete and utter non-sequitur. It demonstrates that he’s just saying stuff to be outrageous — making the panel discussion more fun, is all.

  23. Mung: At last count, two million, three hundred and sixty-four thousand.

    I really enjoy reading your comments written with so much confidence…lol
    I assume that you believe in common descent because you have seen enough evidence for it, right?

    If you do, please cite some of the experiments that have attempted to prove evolution, which have succeeded on the most basic level… If you, like Behe, believe in common descent, you probably believe that eukaryotes have evolved from prokaryotes, right?

    So, out of ” At last count, two million, three hundred and sixty-four thousand” experiments that have proven evolution, one of them must have involved the famous and essential evolutionary step of endosymbiosis, right? If blind dumb luck did in the primordial soup, then scientists, who have no doubt about common descent must have replicated that process many, many time over, right? Not only that, by now they must have replicated an enormous number of time some of the steps of the engulfing of 1 prokaryotic cell by another, which produced some organelles that are not found in prokaryotes but are found in eukaryotes… I bet that by now, people like Venter must have attempted to replicated these evolutionary steps hundreds of thousands of times with some real success proving big mouths like me wrong over and over again, right?

    You do have faith in your believes, don’t you Mung? You do believe that such successful experiments have been documented all over the medical literature, right?

    Let’s see the evidence…

  24. DNA_Jock:
    Allan Miller,

    You characterize Venter’s pH12 comment as “hardly sound evidence against common descent”. I would go further: it is a complete and utter non-sequitur. It demonstrates that he’s just saying stuff to be outrageous — making the panel discussion more fun, is all.

    Are you suggesting that you have proof that microbes that live comfortably in Ph 12 and Paul Davis have had the same common ancestor?
    How about the ones that thrive in near boiling temperature water? Or the ones that can travel the distance from the Earth to Mars exposed to radiation of the open space for years, get there, repair their genome and start replicating when given the right environment?

    Speculations abound but…you know…some evidence wouuld help…;-)

  25. J-Mac: Are you suggesting that you have proof that microbes that live comfortably in Ph 12 and Paul Davis have had the same common ancestor?
    How about the ones that thrive in near boiling temperature water?

    How about them? Evidence includes, among other things, the common genetic code, as exhaustively discussed over in my own OP. What grounds do you have to doubt their common descent? Surely an inimical environment can’t be it? Would you say that humans and fish don’t share common ancestors because we’d drown in their environment, and they flop helplessly in ours?

    Or the ones that can travel the distance from the Earth toMars exposed to radiation of the open space for years, get there, repair their genome and start replicating when given the right environment?

    The what now?

    Speculations abound but…you know…some evidence wouuld help…;-)

    Right back atcha.

  26. Allan Miller,

    Yeah, and we have very good evidence to support the idea that extremophiles are just like us, except adapted to their extremity, whether it be the polymerases of T. aquaticus or D. radiodurans.

    By “us”, I mean E. coli.
    Kinda funny that they are hanging their hats on extremophiles, when the common ancestry that they really want to deny is between humans and other primates. 🙂

  27. DNA_Jock,

    Indeed. Always worth a chuckle. Like, I can buy the subsisting by diffusion on minimal medium at 25 degC thang, but ph12??? C’maaaawn!

    On T. aquaticus, I did start to type up a comment on PCR, but binned it in despair! 😀

    They figure if there are problems at the roots, it infects the whole tree. A good example of misplaced use of the principle of induction.

  28. Mung: Thank you for the link. I found the opening comment absolutely hilarious. We don’t need to define life, we must simply go out and look for it. The audience laughed.

    When computers become conscious, which they will. More laughter.

    Glad you find humor in something. I would argue that

    1. Most biologists don’t have hard-and-fast definitions of Life. I don’t have one, and that has been no hindrance in 50+ years of work. Generally when people say that “first, we can’t discuss the evolution of living things until we reach an agreed-on definition of Life”, the result is an endless wrangle that spirals down the drainhole and doesn’t help anyone.

    2. The statement about computers becoming conscious is, I would guess, likely to be true. Your mileage may vary, but to say that it is self-evidently ludicrous is simple dogmatism.

    (I hasten to say that I have not listened to the whole lecture).

  29. Joe Felsenstein: 1. Most biologists don’t have hard-and-fast definitions of Life. I

    Why is that, Joe?
    Is it perhaps due to the fact that there are many different forms of life that can’t be described by the same definition, as Venter suggested it?

  30. Does this thing I am looking at qualify as something alive?

    I can see why you would need at least SOME working definition of life if you are going to be working either to discover new life, or how life originates. Obviously you’re going to need some way of determining whether you have succeeded in your endeavour.
    But I can also see why it isn’t productive to get bogged down in an endless quibble about the limitations of such definitions. Is it capable of evolving? Well how much? Can it evolve indefinitely?

    Interestingly (or maybe you find it uninteresting) there is some controversy in the origin of life research community about what qualifies as an evolutionary process. This debate has spawned because of some theoretical work that shows that certain non-polymer based metabolic cycles have shown, at least in principle, a capacity to evolve in a process that has some sort of inheritance, some sort of mutation, and some sort of adaptation.
    But other researchers have objected that this isn’t really evolution, because it has also been shown that the adaptive potential of these metabolic cycles is extremely limited, they don’t exhibit the same “open-endedness” of almost unlimited adaptive potential that polymer-based evolution exhibits through the DNA-to-protein translation system and the countless possible interactions this can produce. So now the argument is about how much adaptive potential is required for a process to qualify as evolutionary.

    I read this argument, and I’m thinking to myself “who even cares?” The interesting question (to me) is whether such a process is capable of bridging some of the gap between abiotic geochemistry, and something like simple living cells as we know them. That’s a question to be settled by more work, whether experimental, modeling, and so on, and spending time and effort arguing about whether this is truly “open-ended evolution” sounds like a wasted effort.

    Well, one might think that of course. But you see, if you have a working definition of life that says that (for example) a system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution is ALIVE, then that metabolic system is actually alive, and then you have found an instance of a very simple type of life. And here’s where the definition becomes important! What should qualify? Should that simple metabolic cycle with it’s limited capacity to catalyze fortuitous side-reactions qualify as life? Let’s start throwing Nobel Prizes around then, before we have any idea whether these systems are at all relevant to the origin of life-as-we-know-it.

    You should see the problem now. At some point we’re going to have to have settled this argument, so that we can say that we have failed or succeeded, and some asshole is going to want credit for it too so we can start handing out Fields Medals, Einstein awards, Nobel Prizes and so on (hopefully no Darwin awards though).

  31. J-Mac: I assume that you believe in common descent because you have seen enough evidence for it, right?

    Enough to convince me, yes. Just as I’ve seen enough evidence of design to convince me. What convinces me is not necessarily what will convince others.

    You just seem to be unaware of what it will actually take to disabuse someone else of the notion of common descent. As such I see it as somewhat of a fool’s errand.

    Did you start out accepting common descent and then change your mind about it?

  32. Allan Miller: Would you say that humans and fish don’t share common ancestors because we’d drown in their environment, and they flop helplessly in ours?

    That’s my argument, yes. Don’t you find it convincing?

  33. Rumraket: Does this thing I am looking at qualify as something alive?

    Some of your posts literally leap off the page at me and come alive. Others reek like a corpse. Does that help?

    😉

  34. Mung:
    Maybe we could get Venter to post here. Make it all worth while.

    Isn’t his supposed sock puppet good enough?😂

  35. Mung: Did you start out accepting common descent and then change your mind about it?

    I started out neutral…Then I looked at evidence… Then I realized that nobody can replicate the fundamental steps of evolution … not even close to endosymbiosis…Even recreating a functioning ribosome would require cheating (due to irreducible complexity) and still it has not been done…becuase its functioning requires more than just DNA…

  36. Mung: Here’s a book full of them:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0399184929

    It’s not there!
    Please prove me wrong and quote the part on how the problem of the engulfing of one prokaryotic cell by another has been resolved in the lab…
    How have the scientists prevented the host cell from “digesting” the engulfed” one…

    You do have faith, don’t you? Otherwise you wouldn’t be so convinced of common descent… I have faith too… I know this has never been experimentally accomplished… and it’s not in the book…
    No, I have not read the book… I have faith…You prove me wrong now…please!

  37. Mung: Some of your posts literally leap off the page at me and come alive. Others reek like a corpse. Does that help?

    Always thought that smell was a sign of life going on.

  38. J-Mac: Then I realized that nobody can replicate the fundamental steps of evolution …

    This is not an argument against common descent. It’s more an argument for common descent plus design.

  39. J-Mac, the talk about “what is life” has made me think. The major ID argument is that the only known source of IC is an intelligent agent. Therefore, it is a valid inference that all IC in organisms is also the result of an intelligent agent. Almost sounds logical.

    But let’s take it to the next level. All IC with a confirmed source are the result of an intelligent agent. A human agent. All human produced IC is non-living. Therefore, it is a valid inference that all biology with IC are non-living. Yup, sounds like ID logic.

  40. Acartia: J-Mac, the talk about “what is life” has made me think

    In your own words? Or were you perhaps using someone’s words to think?
    We have new rules at TSZthat require the expressing someone’s ideas in our own words… Thoughts may be next….

  41. Mung: This is not an argument against common descent. It’s more an argument for common descent plus design.

    In my own words, your statement is oxymoron…

  42. Acartia:
    J-Mac, the talk about “what is life” has made me think. The major ID argument is that the only known source of IC is an intelligent agent. Therefore, it is a valid inference that all IC in organisms is also the result of an intelligent agent. Almost sounds logical.

    But let’s take it to the next level. All IC with a confirmed source are the result of an intelligent agent. A human agent. All human produced IC is non-living. Therefore, it is a valid inference that all biology with IC are non-living. Yup, sounds like ID logic.

    In my own words, you built a strawan, and then in your own words, try to support it? Can you explain it, in your own, but other words, it ain’t so…?

  43. J-Mac: In your own words? Or were you perhaps using someone’s words to think?

    Other people’s words often trigger thoughts in my mind. That doesn’t happen to you?

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