From RNA to Humans: A symposium on evolution

| 28 Comments

The Rockefeller University presents a two day symposium on “From RNA to Humans”

With videos of all the lectures

Session 1: Archaean Chemistry and Earliest Fossils

  • The RNA World and the Molecular Origins of Life Gerald F. Joyce, The Scripps Research Institute
  • The Origins of Cellular Life Jack W. Szostak, Harvard Medical School
  • Can the Distribution of Protein Domains Shed Light on the Tree of Life Russell F. Doolittle, University of California, San Diego
  • The Earliest Life on Earth Roger Buick, University of Washington
  • Proterozoic Life and Environments Andrew H. Knoll, Harvard University

Session 2: Cells, Cellular Evolution and Protein History

  • The Tree of Life and Major Transitions in Cell Evolution Thomas Cavalier-Smith, University of Oxford
  • The Origin of Eukaryotes Eugene V. Koonin, National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health
  • Barking up the Wrong Tree: The Dangers of Reification in Molecular Phylogenetics and Systematics W. Ford Doolittle, Dalhousie University
  • RNA Interference May Provide a Window on the RNA-to-DNA World Transition Phillip A. Sharp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Evening Lecture, 6 – 7 p.m.

Feeding and Gloating for More: The Challenge of the New Creationism Jerry A. Coyne, The University of Chicago

Session 3: Development of Eukaryotic Genetic Capacity and Multicellularity

  • The Deep Evolutionary History of Eukaryotes Andrew Roger, Dalhousie University
  • Demonstrating the Sufficiency of Microevolutionary Processes David Penny, Massey University
  • Genes and Development: A Comparison of Human and Amphioxus Genomes Peter W.H. Holland, University of Oxford
  • Cnidaria and the Evolution of the Bilaterian Body Plans: Insights from an Outgroup Ulrich Technau, University of Vienna

Session 4: Human Evolution through the Lens of DNA Sequences

  • Evolution of Human Populations L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Accelerated Evolution in the Human Genome Katherine S. Pollard, University of California, Davis
  • Probing Human Brain Evolution at the Genetic Level Bruce T. Lahn, The University of Chicago
  • A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins Fairfield Osborn Memorial Lecture , Svante Pääbo, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

28 Comments

I attended both days, and though I found the talks of interest, I found them a bit difficult for someone like myself who wasn’t trained in molecular biology, but rather, organismic biology. My personal favorites were Roger Buick’s and Andy Knoll’s (though for obvious reasons since I was trained in paleobiology in graduate school), and also found especially of interest too Coyne’s. Cavalier-Smith’s, Cavalli-Sforza’s, Pollard’s and Paabo’s. The Thursday sessions were moderated by two professors emeriti from Rockefeller University; Friday’s by AMNH invertebrate paleontologist Niles Eldredge and NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott (She also introduced Jerry Coyne Thursday night.).

If the purpose of this symposium was to show to the general public the dynamic vitality of contemporary evolutionary biology, it didn’t succeed, since the talks - except for Coyne’s - were akin to those at AAAS or other scientific society meetings.

Best regards,

John

I was very interested in viewing Coyne’s lecture on The Challenge of the New Creationism however, the sound track is scrambled. I don’t think it’s my system since the other lectures play fine.

Anyone know where I could get a transcript?

Wow. This is going to take some time to get through. I hope I can download some of the video. I am headed to Tokyo Sunday and could watch a couple on the flights.

The stench of godless evolutionists blaspheming our Savior’s name will eventually become too great for him to bear. He will then send a great earthquake to one of those conferences–so exceedingly great that Satan himself will be allowed to emerge from his lair and eat the participants alive! The arrogant evolutionists will be abased at the hand of our Lord Jesus!

JoyBoy said:

…Satan himself will be allowed to emerge from his lair and eat the participants alive!

Film At Eleven?

George said:

Wow. This is going to take some time to get through. I hope I can download some of the video. I am headed to Tokyo Sunday and could watch a couple on the flights.

The files are stored via rtsp as mov files and with QT Pro you can get access to them.

JoyBoy said:

The stench of godless evolutionists blaspheming our Savior’s name will eventually become too great for him to bear. He will then send a great earthquake to one of those conferences–so exceedingly great that Satan himself will be allowed to emerge from his lair and eat the participants alive! The arrogant evolutionists will be abased at the hand of our Lord Jesus!

Stop making us Christians look foolish with your comments.

Bob– Their IT dept fixed the audio! Try again!

Bob– Their IT dept fixed the audio! Try again!

Hey PvM,

I see you’re still flaunting your Christianity, but I never did get your reply regarding the essence of your belief in Christ, His miracles, the resurrection, heaven and hell, original sin, the atonement. An honest person who persists in using their faith as a badge for berating other believers who disagree with your science should have no problem clarifying their theology.

Lots of cults with no tie to historic Christianity use the buzz words… you’re not in that camp are you?

Keith,

More on topic, do you still claim that the RNA World hypothesis is dead?

Stanton,

It’s not dead because your team has no plausible alternative other than space aliens, universal life force, meteor seeding, boiling salt water gremlins, clay gumbies, frozen ice mica meanies and such.

People who cling to the RNA first world are simply desperate philosophical naturalists, not too far removed from Joseph Priestly and phlogiston in tone, tenor and flavor.

If people are a little down and need some slapstick laughs try reading the 8-10 alternatives to RNA world as well as a candid assessment of it’s many, many obstacles to believability can enjoy:

http://www.panspermia.org/rnaworld.htm

http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od1[…]world171.htm

http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/june20[…]na/rna2.html ( A paper more concerned with analyzing modern RNA and exploring how understanding RNA and its present capacities, relationships to DNA, etc. might assist in new medical treatments and having at best a hypothetical passing interest in abiogenesis.)

Of course, Robert Shapiro keeps popping back into the picture and pouring ice water on all the RNA World conjectures with devastating scientific precision, as again in his Scientific American article (2007).

One quote from Shapiro won’t hurt.

“The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence. He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time. No physical law need be broken for spontaneous RNA formation to happen, but the chances against it are so immense, that the suggestion implies that the non-living world had an innate desire to generate RNA. The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck.”

See—http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id[…]p;print=true

I suggest you wait until Shapiro dies before you start crowing about this particular pipe-dream.

I’ll bet he wasn’t invited to present at this shindig!!

People who cling to the RNA first world are simply desperate philosophical naturalists, not too far removed from Joseph Priestly and phlogiston in tone, tenor and flavor.

Aha, the argument from ad hominem… In the mean time science proceeds to unravel the mysteries of origin of life. No worry some people are getting quite worried because origin of life is where they had been hiding their “god”

Of course not my dear confused fellow Christian. It must come as quite a shock to you that one can be a Christian and still accept the facts of science.

So why do you reject what God is showing you?

keith said:

Hey PvM,

I see you’re still flaunting your Christianity, but I never did get your reply regarding the essence of your belief in Christ, His miracles, the resurrection, heaven and hell, original sin, the atonement. An honest person who persists in using their faith as a badge for berating other believers who disagree with your science should have no problem clarifying their theology.

Lots of cults with no tie to historic Christianity use the buzz words… you’re not in that camp are you?

It seems that Keith prefers arguments from authority rather than looking at the evidence presented. I understand since the evidence is quite discouraging to those who reject science because it somehow conflicts with their faith.

Keith still seems to be unaware of or ignoring the vast amount of work done on origins of life which show that the basic chemicals are easily synthesized on a pre-biotic earth, how vesicles self-assemble and how science is resolving the minor mysteries of chirality. Science is even unraveling the origin and evolution of the genetic code and many other fascinating aspects which took place literally billions of years ago.

It will take time but contrary to ID, science has been incredibly productive. In fact, one may say that ID has remained, as expected, scientifically vacuous.

PvM,

How utterly silly that you refer to the scientific papers of the world renowned Shapiro as published in the most prestigious peer reviewed journals while crowing about some miniconference of crackling coots.

I see your continued refusal to answer the most basic questions concerning this Christianity of yours…that tells me just about all I need to know.

You really should attempt to understand the vast difference between bald assertion and actual demonstrated scientific results of consequence.

Do you suppose Kenyon might be extended an invitation as well, since he wrote the book on the subject?

I see your continued refusal to answer the most basic questions concerning this Christianity of yours … that tells me just about all I need to know.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

(right, Keith?)

How sad to see my fellow Christian reduced to foolish behavior and assertions. While Shapiro makes claims, these scientists do the hard work but somehow Keith is afraid to look at the work.

As to my faith, you are free to believe whatever you want to believe, however I assure you that I am a Christian and that is all you need to know my confused fellow Christian friend. Although I understand that some Christians foolishly decide to judge their fellow Christians.

keith said:

PvM,

How utterly silly that you refer to the scientific papers of the world renowned Shapiro as published in the most prestigious peer reviewed journals while crowing about some miniconference of crackling coots.

I see your continued refusal to answer the most basic questions concerning this Christianity of yours…that tells me just about all I need to know.

You really should attempt to understand the vast difference between bald assertion and actual demonstrated scientific results of consequence.

Do you suppose Kenyon might be extended an invitation as well, since he wrote the book on the subject?

And the people that presented at the conference are quite well known in fact. But they are perhaps harder to quote-mine.

What is truly unbelievable is that in the same article Shapiro states

The small-molecule alternative, however, is in harmony with the views of biologist Stuart Kauffman: “If this is all true, life is vastly more probable than we have supposed.

What a wonderful quote-mine my dear confused fellow Christian friend…

Of course your assertions and focus was on the RNA world as having somehow demonstrated the solution to all the abiogenesis issues. Shapiro, Kenyon and the other lifelong researchers of merit (not the hanger-on wannabees) have destroyed that view cyclically every few years in no uncertain terms.

The small molecule is just another unfulfilled dream wish without a scintilla of evidence beyond assertive statements. I suppose it is an improvement over the self playing golf ball, maybe only nine holes rather than eighteen.

At least it’s an improvement over Crick’s space seeds and Shapiro’s Life Force.

Your teams desperate measures result in some rather laughable proposals.

I suspect you’re a Roswell man, right?

Jerry admitted that a correlation did not imply causation and then proceeded to go to a non sequiter. In Michael Schermer’s review of Expelled he noted that a majority of students and professors at Pepperdine [most likely biology students according to some comments by a religion prof there] accepted evolution. From my experience, most of the biology departments at evangelical colleges also accept evolution. Some of those professors are some of the forgotten “expelled” as documented here and elsewhere. So, what’s to explain the last graph in Jerry’s talk? Genie mentioned in here introduction of the vast divide between scientists and lay people. She’s on to something here.

Here’s my take. When I discuss this with evangelicals if I hear the following phrase I know that there’s is going to be a problem accepting the evidence. “I am not a scientist, but” That’s what Ben Stein said. Because many lay people are not scientists then they need to get their scientific information from people they trust. Unfortunately, these people are not trustworthy. Some evangelicals like myself do not have this problem. What makes the difference? My knowledge of the science is not mediated by these experts. In fact, I go straight to the papers and analyze it myself. All of this is on the Internet now so how can I do it but not others? Because I had a quality science education.

Here’s the causation. You don’t accept the science if:

1. You are not well educated in science AND 2. You pick bad experts

Unfortunately, by Jerry deviating from the AAAS/NAS/NCSE approach the divide will harden even deeper so that the people will force the politicians to make quality science education unavailable and to not listen to people like myself. Face it. They are not going to listen to an atheist, particularly an “in your face” one. I know my credibility with secular scientists is hurt by the YEC/ID crowd. The same dynamic works in the opposite direction.

keith said:

Of course your assertions and focus was on the RNA world as having somehow demonstrated the solution to all the abiogenesis issues.

That’s just a plain foolish comment

I do understand why you are unwilling to look at the data and evidence. As an ex-YECer I know how much effort I had invested in my foolish beliefs, it will take some time to recover. But trust me, there is a road out from such foolish ignorance.

And perhaps Keith can explain to us how ‘his team’ explains the origin of life.

silence.…

In other words, compared to ‘his team’, science is doing quite well. But Keith would not know this from his quote mine ‘knowledge’. That’s too bad because he ends up making us Christians look a lil’ foolish when he denies scientific facts.

An alternative to this regurgitation of ideas debunked decades ago is to read the PDF of the classic book on Life’s origins by Thaxton and Bradley.

It a comprehensive review of the subject at the unchanging chemical and thermodynamic level.

It serves as a good BS filter for the phlogistonites.

In other words, Keith has nothing to offer and in fact has shown himself to be unwilling to even listen the presentations.

What a foolish act by my fellow Christian.

keith said:

An alternative to this regurgitation of ideas debunked decades ago is to read the PDF of the classic book on Life’s origins by Thaxton and Bradley.

It a comprehensive review of the subject at the unchanging chemical and thermodynamic level.

It serves as a good BS filter for the phlogistonites.

phlogistonites? Didn’t King David slay those guys with his slingshot? :)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on May 21, 2008 9:08 PM.

NCSE: Proving ID = Creationism was the previous entry in this blog.

Washington Post: Creationism’s Latest Mutation is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter