Universal Common Descent Dilemma

  1. Despite lack of observational basis, Darwin proposed Universal Common Descent (UCD) saying:Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed“. He also said elsewhere (referring to UCD): “…the littlest creature (or four or five of them)…” With his remarks, Darwin left the door open to creation (“life was first breathed”), but since then, Neo-Darwinists have rejected creation and replaced it with belief in undirected abiogenesis while maintaining belief in UCD.
  2. UCD is incompatible with the current view of Earth as just an ordinary planet circling an ordinary star located nowhere special inside an ordinary galaxy. If Earth is “nothing special” and abiogenesis is an ordinary “arising” of life from non-living matter, spontaneous abiogenesis would be a trivial common occurrence here on Earth as well as throughout the Universe, and we would have many “trees of life” instead of one. However, until now, all abiogenesis experiments have failed to produce life, spontaneous generation has been rejected, and the Fermi paradox stands, all these keeping the single “tree of life” and UCD hypothesis still alive and still inexplicable.
  3. Conditions for starting life should be similar to those required for sustaining it. The Big Bang model mandates a beginning of life. Furthermore, once started life must be sustained by the same or very similar environment. And since life is being sustained now on Earth, abiogenesis should be ongoing contrary to all observations to date. Tidal pools, deep sea hydrothermal vents, and the undersurface of ice caps have been hypothesized to originate abiogenesis due to their persistent energy gradients, but no abiogenesis or its intermediate phases have been observed around these sites. Given these, the only methodological naturalistic alternative is ‘limited window of opportunity for abiogenesis which suggests primordial life substantially different than all known forms of life, and perhaps originating on another planet followed by panspermia. However, this alternative defies Occam’s razor and the absence of supporting evidence including the earliest ever known fossils (stromatolites) that are of commonly occurring cyanobacteria rather than of alien origin.
  4. Universal Common Descent requires an inexplicable biologic singularity. All known forms of life are based on the same fundamental biochemical organization, so either abiogenesis happened only once or it happened freely for a while but then it stopped when the ‘window of opportunity’ closed and only one organism survived to become the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all existing life on Earth. However, these two biologic singularities should be unacceptable given the lack of evidence and the assumption of continuity in nature. Furthermore, the second scenario requires two discontinuities: one for the cessation of abiogenesis and the second one for the bottleneck leading to LUCA.
  5. In conclusion, UCD hypothesis leads to a number of bad and very bad scenarios: a) Earth is “nothing special” should lead to a “forest of life” rather than a single “tree of life” and to ubiquitous abiogenesis (unobserved); b) Alien life plus panspermia is refuted by the Fermi paradox and oldest known stromatolites fossils; c) Single event abiogenesis is an unsupported and therefore unacceptable singularity; d) ‘Window of opportunity’ abiogenesis followed by LUCA bottleneck is even less acceptable double-singularity. And this brings us back to Darwin’s “open door” to creation, perhaps the most rational alternative that fits all biologic observations.

Pro-Con Notes

Con: Maybe abiogenesis is happening a lot. I think the already existing life would dispose of it quickly though.

Pro:  if so, 1. We should be able to duplicate abiogenesis in the lab; 2. We should see at least some of the intermediate abiogenesis steps in nature; 3. Existing life can only process what looks like food. Cellulose is a well known organic material that cannot be broken down by a lot of organisms and is known to last as very long time in dry conditions.

1,101 Replies to “Universal Common Descent Dilemma”

  1. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    Hey Mung, are you starting to see why talk of speciation is so specious?

    If you arrived in a world where the only dogs were Great Danes and Chihuahuas, would you not consider them separate species? You would not have your present knowledge of the breadth of the dog clade; you would just be presented with two populations that could not interbreed, and hence, with no mechanism to correlate their respective genetic changes and orbit around nonlin’s fictitious ‘mean’. “But they’re still dogs”, croaks phoodoo.

  2. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy:
    Allan Miller,

    A false prophecy. Right. Obviously nobody in Nonlin’s family has been among the victims of multi-drug resistant bacteria yet. Thus, the “good Christian” has no clue and/or no compassion for those who are dying from bacterial infections that cannot be treated.

    Even so, nonlin’s contention that antibiotic resistance would of itself increase mortality above pre-antibiotic levels, and hence kill the species, is pretty dumb.

  3. Corneel Corneel
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: newton: There are two kinds of people ,one kind that agrees that is the only choice and one kind that doesn’t.

    Maybe there are three kinds of people. Or four.

    I am not sure whether I agree with that or not.

  4. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Dichotomous thinking lies at the heart of many a Creationist misunderstanding. Trivially, any given two populations can either interbreed, or they cannot. But the Creationist would have it that the second state cannot be achieved from the first. There is no middle ground in which interfertility rates can pass by degrees from 100%, through 50%, through 10%, to zero. It’s all or nothing. Present them with anything on that continuum and they consider ‘but they are still dogs’ to be a clever response. Present them with two isolated populations, and presumably they regard them as separately created.

    Or, if not, what?

    Is divergence through to complete biological isolation something that can only be achieved deliberately?

  5. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller:
    Dichotomous thinking lies at the heart of many a Creationist misunderstanding. Trivially, any given two populations can either interbreed, or they cannot. But the Creationist would have it that the second state cannot be achieved from the first. There is no middle ground in which interfertility rates can pass by degrees from 100%, through 50%, through 10%, to zero. It’s all or nothing. Present them with anything on that continuum and they consider ‘but they are still dogs’ to be a clever response. Present them with two isolated populations, and presumably they regard them as separately created.

    Or, if not, what?

    Is divergence through to complete biological isolation something that can only be achieved deliberately?

    Interestingly there are some humans right now who are unable to conceive together. They are just not compatible for whatever genetic and medical reasons, but can technically have children with other people. Imagine separating such individuals into two large groups of people who can’t have children with the people from the other group. Even in our own species the interfertility rate is below 100%.

  6. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: f you arrived in a world where the only dogs were Great Danes and Chihuahuas, would you not consider them separate species?

    Right. And you still don’t see the problem?

  7. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Right.And you still don’t see the problem?

    Perhaps you could simply articulate it, rather than waggling your eyebrows meaningfully.

  8. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Maybe there are three kinds of people.Or four.

    There are two kinds of people ,those that believe there are two kinds of people and those that don’t.

  9. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Right. And you still don’t see the problem?

    I don’t. What is the problem?

  10. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: I don’t. What is the problem?

    That you can’t understand the problem.

    I bet Mung does.

  11. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: I bet Mung does.

    There are a lot of females out there that I would like to have sex with but have no chance in hell of actually doing so. Is that what you mean? I am a different species. 🙂

  12. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: That you can’t understand the problem.

    I bet Mung does.

    So what is the problem? Wafting your arms frantically does not really get the job done, communication-wise. So far we have established that there is a … uh … problem, and Rumraket and I can’t yet see what it is. Mung may or may not. So … what is it?

  13. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: That you can’t understand the problem.

    I bet Mung does.

    Can you make an effort to describe the problem?

  14. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Great Danes and Chihuahuas are separate species. Therefore speciation does not happen.

  15. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    That’s funny.

  16. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: Can you point to a single one of those means?

    Take all cats and find their mean.

  17. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Either all species were created just as we see them today or they were not. What evidence do we have that species were created just as we see them today?

    I did not say “they were created just as we see them today”. I say they cannot logically “arise” via the hocus-pocus Darwinist nonsense.

  18. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: First off, humans are apes. Second, that’s incredibly stupid.
    Typical of you

    Only seems stupid to those that don’t understand anything about anything.

  19. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: I see no reason to doubt that reproductive isolation can evolve between two groups.

    Darwin didn’t promise you “reproductive isolation”. That’s trivial. But hey, you’re probably still enjoying peekaboo.

  20. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: As soon as you isolate populations from each other so genes are not exchanged between them, then the mutations that happen in lineage A will not make it into lineage B, and the mutations that happen in lineage B will not make it into lineage A. So they will necessarily diverge as mutations accumulate over generations in each lineage seperately.

    Wrong!
    1. If YOU isolate populations it’s called breeding. We tried for thousands of years and it does not lead to “new species”. No one isolates in nature.
    2. There is no law saying “mutations must accumulate”. In fact we see mutations reverse to baseline over time, not accumulate.

  21. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Just look at those Great Danes and Chihuahuas. Kill every intermediate, and no genes can flow between them. Not many genes are flowing as it is. Do you really think that, in nature, such a thing could never happen?

    In nature there is no human to keep those two apart from the beginning. And even when we do, THEY’RE STILL both CANIS LUPUS. Short of a VERY RARE catastrophe, off course there would be EITHER (1) continuous interbreeding hence homogeneity OR (2) ongoing divergence hence a continuum between chimps and humans (example). We see neither. Now, pick your poison.

  22. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: Whatever it is you think you have explained is demonstrably false by the instant you observe two different individuals of any population.

    That’s stupid. You confuse ‘different’ with ‘divergent’. We’re all different, but not divergent. Different is trivial. Divergent is not.

  23. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: The only ‘superpower’ that bacteria evolved is antibiotic resistance. Therefore they are as deadly now as they were before antibiotics were invented.

    Absolutely wrong. Go check out the statistics. Bacteria is not “as deadly now as they were before antibiotics”.

  24. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: Antibiotic resistance IS evolution. Mutations cause antibiotic resistance, and those mutations are subject to natural selection depending on whether and how much antibiotic is in the environment. So it’s evolution by natural selection.

    Total nonsense from end to end.

  25. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Obviously nobody in Nonlin’s family has been among the victims of multi-drug resistant bacteria yet. Thus, the “good Christian” has no clue and/or no compassion for those who are dying from bacterial infections that cannot be treated.

    Only zero reading comprehension can “help you” write this.

  26. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Even so, nonlin’s contention that antibiotic resistance would of itself increase mortality above pre-antibiotic levels, and hence kill the species, is pretty dumb.

    Zero reading comprehension. That’s was the Darwinist claim that turned out false.

  27. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: Interestingly there are some humans right now who are unable to conceive together. They are just not compatible for whatever genetic and medical reasons, but can technically have children with other people.

    Any Darwinosaur knows that they are “evolving” divergently. That’s why.

  28. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Wrong!

    No what I wrote as absolutely correct. Two isolated populations don’t exchange genes. By definition. Otherwise they wouldn’t be isolated. Doh.

    1. If YOU isolate populations it’s called breeding.

    No, breeding is when you pair up particular individuals to have offspring. As in bring them together to encourage pairing. Isolation is when you separate them to prevent them from breeding.

    We tried for thousands of years and it does not lead to “new species”.

    Now you are confusing divergence in character, which was the specific claim of yours I was responding to, with speciation.

    You claimed we don’t see divergence in character. And we clearly do. The longer two populations remain isolated from each other, the more they will diverge in genetic and physiological characters. That’s true even if they technically remain the same species because they are capable of exchanging genes reproductively if brought back together.

    Are polar bears and grizzly bears not divergent in character? I say they are as they are clearly distinct in their behaviors and appearance. Despite the fact that they can interbreed and produce fertile hybrids.

    If your original claim was not about divergence of characters, but about speciation through reproductive isolation, you should have said that instead. But I think in fact your original claim WAS about divergence in character, and you’re now just trying to make it about speciation instead because you now realize how obviously stupid and false your claim was.

    No one isolates in nature.

    I agree completely. No one isolates in nature. Yet isolation does still happen in nature. Why? Because in nature isolation is due to various genetic, geological, and meteorological phenomena when isolation happens. Continental landmasses drift apart with oceans forming between them, mountain ranges form where they collide, upon which snow collects, which melts and create rivers, which splits environments up. Rivers run into the ocean and create large flood deltas. Oceanic islands come and go over geological time scales and so on and so forth. And then there are the genetic factors that create isolation through mutual infertility, such as the chromosome doubling that some times cause reproductive isolation in plants.

    2. There is no law saying “mutations must accumulate”.

    I agree there is no such law, they nevertheless do. It is simply just an observed fact that mutations happen and accumulate over time.

    In fact we see mutations reverse to baseline over time, not accumulate.

    No, we don’t. While reversals are of course possible, and do occasionally occur, they are very rare compared to the general onslaught of new mutations. For quite obvious probabilistic reasons.

  29. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Total nonsense from end to end.

    No it’s a demonstrable fact that that is how antibiotic resistance evolves. You can watch this excellent video for a demonstration.

    Notice also how this evolutionary process results in tree-like structure as dividing cells accumulate mutations independently leading to bifurcations in the lines of descent.

  30. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    Great Danes and Chihuahuas are separate species. Therefore speciation does not happen.

    There are tall people and there are short people. Therefore speciation happens.

  31. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: 1. If YOU isolate populations it’s called breeding. We tried for thousands of years and it does not lead to “new species”. No one isolates in nature.

    It does according to Mung. And Allan. And Rumraket.

    There are now like 7 billion species of humans. And that doesn’t count the 100s of thousands that go extinct every day.

  32. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket,

    This chart is a result of an accumulation of accidents.

    I think the chart itself is an actual species.

  33. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: There are tall people and there are short people. Therefore speciation happens.

    Not the same thing at all.

  34. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: There are tall people and there are short people. Therefore speciation happens.

    According to which species definition?

  35. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: No it’s a demonstrable fact that that is how antibiotic resistance evolves.

    You’re equivocating over the term “evolution.” The video show how one strain of bacteria can out-reproduce another strain of bacteria. No one doubts “evolution” when it means some things leave more offspring than others.

  36. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Take all cats and find their mean.

    My cat is not mean. I’ve had lots o cats that are not mean. Why should I find that cats are mean?

  37. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: According to which species definition?

    Right.

  38. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: This chart is a result of an accumulation of accidents.

    Yes. And and they created antibiotic resistance, and then improved it. 🙂

  39. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Now, pick your poison.

    It’s very tempting.

  40. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: You’re equivocating over the term “evolution.”

    How so? In what sense did I employ the term and what sense should I have?

    The video show how one strain of bacteria can out-reproduce another strain of bacteria.

    By suffering mutations that give them a competitive advantage in a particular environment that is very hostile to bacteria without those mutations, yes. That’s a textbook example of evolution by mutation and natural selection. It also happens to yield a good picture of how that same process can lead to bifurcation of lineages (divergence), and that this has the result of producing tree-like structures in the lines of descent.

    No one doubts “evolution” when it means some things leave more offspring than others.

    I’m not convinced you’re right when you say that. I constantly get the impression from phoodoo that he doubts even that.

    For example, is it the case that phoodoo has no issue accepting that evolution could fix a white-fur allele in polar bear ancestors because it gave them a competitive advantage in arctic environments? I distinctly remember a thread where he had issues with that very concept.

    Or how about the peppered moths, phoodoo is completely okay with particular moth variants having a survival advantage leading to fixation of a particular dark or bright variant?

  41. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s that thread where phoodoo simply couldn’t accept the concept of a reproductive advantage: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/evo-info-3-evolution-is-not-search/comment-page-26/#comment-192589

    It’s an AMAZING thread by the way. I had forgotten about it but now that I’m reading it again I need to save a link for it as it is INSTRUCTIVE on the tapdancing and flailing of creationism.

  42. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: You’re equivocating over the term “evolution.” The video show how one strain of bacteria can out-reproduce another strain of bacteria. No one doubts “evolution” when it means some things leave more offspring than others.

    The experiment starts with a single strain of bacteria Mung. A colony derived from a single cell. It doesn’t start with a mixture of strains.

    Others had experimented with evolution from single cell-derived colonies before, but these guys found an easy way to show it as it happens. Beautiful, elegant, work.

  43. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    This chart is a result of an accumulation of accidents.

    Of course not! A invisible undetectable magical being in the sky came and touched a few cells and gave them the gift of antibiotic resistance. The magical being repeated the gifting as needed. It just looks as if there was random mutations.

    ETA: Hopefully, the magical being will consistent enough in this apparent randomness that scientists can start figuring out how quickly antibiotic resistance will be gifted to infectious bacteria as they design new antibiotics.

  44. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: The experiment starts with a single strain of bacteria Mung. A colony derived from a single cell. It doesn’t start with a mixture of strains.

    I absolutely do not believe that the video which Rumraket linked to began with a single bacterium. But I’ll take this as an opportunity for me to learn something I did not know before. How did they isolate one single bacterium?

  45. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket: How so? In what sense did I employ the term and what sense should I have?

    Seriously? You answered your own question:

    Rumraket: By suffering mutations that give them a competitive advantage in a particular environment that is very hostile to bacteria without those mutations, yes. That’s a textbook example of evolution by mutation and natural selection.

    There is “evolution by mutation” and there is “evolution by natural selection.”

    Please tell me you understand the difference.

  46. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: I absolutely do not believe that the video which Rumraket linked to began with a single bacterium. But I’ll take this as an opportunity for me to learn something I did not know before. How did they isolate one single bacterium?

    It didn’t begin with a single bacterium at least at the stage where the video shows the experiment to begin. The agar plate was inoculated in 6 different locations with the same strain if I remember correctly(I read the associated paper awhile ago but it’s behind paywall so can’t access it now).

    In any case, it is actually not hard to isolate single bacteria with some common microbiology techniques. I’ve done so many times myself. Usually plate streaking will do the trick if done correctly. It can be combined with serial dilutions, sonication or what have you if you really want to make sure you break apart bacteria that tend to stick together.

    There’s always some preparation for an experiment like that. What will typically happen if you want to make sure you begin an experiment with a clonal, isogenic population, is that a dilution of liquid culture of bacteria (possibly sonicated or treated with a detergent that dissolves the molecules bacteria use to stick together) is streaked or spread over an agar plate, which in turn is then incubated until visible colonies appear.

    This plate spreading or streaking technique from a dilute culture has the effect of spreading individual bacteria out so a single bacterium will seed a new colony on the agar.

    You can then pick out a single colony that subsequently grows on the plate, which would be largely isogenic (largely because as soon as they start dividing and a colony forms some of those will unavoidably be mutants), is then picked with a small loop and put into some liquid growth medium and incubated again for a few hours. From this liquid culture, started from an isogenic population, the big agar plate we see will be seeded in a few select locations. This will effectively have ensured the experiment began with a single bacterium as the bacteria used to seed the large plate are as isogenic as it is possible to make them, before the actual innoculation of the big square agar plate we see in the video.

    They don’t seed the big plate with single bacteria though, that is correct. Not that that would technically be impossible either.

  47. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Rumraket: How so? In what sense did I employ the term and what sense should I have?

    Seriously? You answered your own question:

    Uhh no what you go on to quote is me responding to specific questions and statements that happened subsequently to you accusing me of equivocation. What you need to do is go back to what spawned your initial accusation, then quote me doing what you think is an equivocation, and explain to me wherein the equivocation lies.

    Whatever happens in posts I make after you accuse me are all answers to specific points you and others make. I never equivocate anything there. Each point I make is a response to a separate question or statement made by someone else.

    Here is where it begins:

    Nonlin.org: Antibiotic resistance is not evolution

    Rumraket: Antibiotic resistance IS evolution. Mutations cause antibiotic resistance, and those mutations are subject to natural selection depending on whether and how much antibiotic is in the environment. So it’s evolution by natural selection.

    Nonlin.org: Total nonsense from end to end.

    Rumraket: No it’s a demonstrable fact that that is how antibiotic resistance evolves. You can watch this excellent video for a demonstration. Notice also how this evolutionary process results in tree-like structure as dividing cells accumulate mutations independently leading to bifurcations in the lines of descent.

    Mung:You’re equivocating over the term “evolution.” The video show how one strain of bacteria can out-reproduce another strain of bacteria. No one doubts “evolution” when it means some things leave more offspring than others.

    There’s zero equivocation going on there. Equivocation is a fallacy where ambigous language is employed to argue for a conclusion the facts or premises don’t support. Where have I done this? That’s right, fucking nowhere

    There is “evolution by mutation” and there is “evolution by natural selection.”

    Please tell me you understand the difference.

    I do and I have not equivocated in my use of those to argue for a conclusion the facts don’t support. Both are instances of evolution, however. That’s not an equivocation. And they can in fact be combined, into evolution by mutation and natural selection. Which IS how antibiotic resistance can evolve and demonstrably so in the video I link.

    And evolution by mutation and natural selection is a subset of evolution by natural selection. Selection of what? Carriers of different alleles. What are alleles? Variants of particular genetic loci. Variants in what sense? They’re mutants in nucleotide sequences.

    Stop this useless pedantic bullshit please.

  48. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Darwin didn’t promise you “reproductive isolation”. That’s trivial. But hey, you’re probably still enjoying peekaboo.

    Good for Darwin. I don’t know why you are obsessed by him. But if reproductive isolation – biological isolation, not merely a stretch of ocean or a mountain – is trivial, you have your answer as to why there is not some kind of universal ‘meta species’ in a genetic continuum.

  49. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: In nature there is no human to keep those two apart from the beginning. And even when we do, THEY’RE STILL both CANIS LUPUS. Short of a VERY RARE catastrophe, off course there would be EITHER (1) continuous interbreeding hence homogeneity OR (2) ongoing divergence hence a continuum between chimps and humans (example). We see neither. Now, pick your poison.

    So you don’t think that anything in nature could possibly cut off two divergent populations. All natural populations are in perpetual genetic contact. Nonlin’s Rule, made up on the spot.

  50. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: Absolutely wrong. Go check out the statistics. Bacteria is not “as deadly now as they were before antibiotics”.

    ‘The Statistics’. Yeah, I’ll look it up in The Journal Of The Statistics. There’s bound to be something in there about how much more deadly antibiotic resistant bugs are than their ancestors were in a world without antibiotics.

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