The true story of the Archaean genetic expansion

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Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

I've been giving talks at scientific meetings on educational outreach — I've been telling the attendees that they ought to start blogs or in other ways make more of an effort to educate the public. I mentioned one successful result the other day, but we need more.

I give multiple reasons for scientists to do this. One is just general goodness: we need to educate a scientifically illiterate public. Of course, like all altruism, this isn't really recommended out of simple kindness, but because the public ultimately holds the pursestrings, and science needs their understanding and support. Another reason, though, is personal. Scientific results get mangled in press releases and news accounts, so having the ability to directly correct misconceptions about your work ought to be powerfully attractive. Even worse, though, I tell them that creationists are actively distorting their work. This goes beyond simple ignorance and incomprehension into the malign world of actively lying about the science, and it happens more often than most people realize.

I have another painful example of deviousness of creationists. There's a paper I've been meaning to write up for a little while, a Nature paper by David and Alm that reveals an ancient period of rapid gene expansion in the Archaean, approximately 3 billion years ago. Last night I thought I'd just take a quick look to see if anybody had already written it up, so I googled "Archaean genetic expansion," and there it was: a couple of references to the paper itself, a news summary, one nice science summary, and…two creationist distortions of the paper, right there on the first page of google results. I told you! This happens all the time: if there's a paper in one of the big journals that discusses more evidence for evolution, there is a creationist hack somewhere who'll quickly write it up and lie about it. It's a heck of a lot easier to summarize a paper if you don't understand it, you see, so they've got an edge on us.

One of the creationist summaries is by an intelligent design creationist. He looks at the paper and claims it supports this silly idea called front-loading: the Designer seeded the Earth with creatures that carried a teleological evolutionary program, loading them up with genes at the beginning that would only find utility later. The unsurprising fact that many gene families are of ancient origin seems to him to confirm his weird idea of a designed source, when of course it does nothing of the kind, and fits quite well in an evolutionary history with no supernatural interventions at all.

The other creationist summary is from an old earth biblical creationist who tries to claim that "explosive increase in biochemical capabilities happened in anticipation of changes that were to take place in the environment", a conclusion completely unsupportable from the paper, and also tries to telescope a long series of changes documented in the data into a single ancient event so that they can claim that the rate of innovation was so rapid that it contradicts the "evolutionary paradigm".

So lets take a look at the actual paper. Does it defy evolutionary theory in any way? Does it actually make predictions that fit creationist models? The answer to both is a loud "NO": it is a paper using methods of genomic analysis that produce evolutionary histories, it describes long periods of gradual modification of genomes, and it correlates genomic innovations with changes in the ancient environment. It is freakin' bizarre that anyone can look at this work and think it supports creationism, but there you are, standard operating procedure in the fantasy world of the creationist mind.

Here's the abstract, so you can get an idea of the conclusions the authors draw from the work.

The natural history of Precambrian life is still unknown because of the rarity of microbial fossils and biomarkers. However, the composition of modern-day genomes may bear imprints of ancient biogeochemical events. Here we use an explicit model of macro- evolution including gene birth, transfer, duplication and loss events to map the evolutionary history of 3,983 gene families across the three domains of life onto a geological timeline. Surprisingly, we find that a brief period of genetic innovation during the Archaean eon, which coincides with a rapid diversification of bacterial lineages, gave rise to 27% of major modern gene families. A functional analysis of genes born during this Archaean expan- sion reveals that they are likely to be involved in electron-transport and respiratory pathways. Genes arising after this expansion show increasing use of molecular oxygen (P=3.4 x 10-8) and redox- sensitive transition metals and compounds, which is consistent with an increasingly oxygenating biosphere.

This work is an analysis of the distribution of gene families in modern species. Gene families, if you're unfamiliar with the term, are collections of genes that have similar sequences and usually similar functions that clearly arose by gene duplications. A classic example of a gene family are the globin genes, an array of very similar genes that produce proteins that are all involved in the transport of oxygen; they vary by, for instance, their affinity for oxygen, so there is a fetal hemoglobin which binds oxygen more avidly than adult hemoglobin, necessary so the fetus can extract oxygen from the mother's circulatory system.

So, in this paper, David and Alm are just looking at genes that have multiple members that arose by gene duplication and divergence. They explicitly state that they excluded singleton genes, things called ORFans, which are unique genes within a lineage. That does mean that their results underestimate the production of novel genes in history, but it's a small loss and one the authors are aware of.

If we were looking for evidence for evolution, we might as well stop here. The existence of gene families, for cryin' out loud, is evidence for evolution. This paper is far beyond arguing about the truth of evolution — that's taken for granted as the simple life's breath of biology — but instead asks a more specific question: when did all of these genes arise? And they have a general method for estimating that.

Here's how it works. If, for example, we have a gene family that is only found in animals, but not in fungi or plants or protists or bacteria, we can estimate the date of its appearance to a time shortly after the divergence of the animal clade from all those groups. If a gene family is found in plants and fungi and animals, but not in bacteria, we know it arose farther back in the past than the animal-only gene families, but not so far back as a time significantly predating the evolution of multicellularity.

Similarly, we can also look at gene losses. If a gene family or member of a gene family is present in the bacteria, and also found in animals, we can assume it is ancient in origin and common; but if that same family is missing in plants, we can detect a gene loss. Also, if the size of the gene family changes in different lineages, we can estimate rates of gene loss and gene duplication events.

I've given greatly simplified examples, but really, this is a non-trivial exercise, requiring comparisons of large quantities of data and also analysis from the perspective of the topologies of trees derived from that data. The end result is that each gene family can be assigned an estimated date of origin, and that further, we can estimate how rapidly new genes were evolving over time, and put it into a rather spectacular graph.

genomeevents.jpeg
(Click for larger image)

Rates of macroevolutionary events over time. Average rates of gene birth (red), duplication (blue), HGT (green), and loss (yellow) per lineage (events per 10 Myr per lineage) are shown. Events that increase gene count are plotted to the right, and gene loss events are shown to the left. Genes already present at the Last Universal Common Ancestor are not included in the analysis of birth rates because the time over which those genes formed is not known. The Archaean Expansion (AE) was also detected when 30 alternative chronograms were considered. The inset shows metabolites or classes of metabolites ordered according to the number of gene families that use them that were born during the Archaean Expansion compared with the number born before the expansion, plotted on a log2 scale. Metabolites whose enrichments are statistically significant at a false discovery rate of less than 10% or less than 5% (Fisher's Exact Test) are identified with one or two asterisks, respectively. Bars are coloured by functional annotation or compound type (functional annotations were assigned manually). Metabolites were obtained from the KEGG database release 51.0 and associated with clusters of orthologous groups of proteins (COGs) using the MicrobesOnline September 2008 database28. Metabolites associated with fewer than 20 COGs or sharing more than two- thirds of gene families with other included metabolites are omitted.

Look first at just the red areas. That's a measure of the rate of novel gene formation, and it shows a distinct peak early in the history of life, around 3 billion years ago. 27% of our genes are very, very old, arising in this first early flowering. Similarly, there's a slightly later peak of gene loss, the orange area. This represents a period of early exploration and experimentation, when the first crude versions of the genes we use now were formed, tested, discarded if inefficient, and honed if advantageous.

But then the generation of completely novel genes drops off to a low to nonexistent rate (but remember, this is an underestimate because ORFans aren't counted). If you draw any conclusions from the graph, it's that life on earth was essentially done generating new genes about one billion years ago…but we know that all the multicellular diversity visible to our eyes arose after that period. What gives?

That's what the blue and green areas tell us. We live in a world now rich in genetic diversity, most of it in the bacterial genomes, and our morphological diversity isn't a product so much of creating completely new genes, but of taking existing, well-tested and functional genes and duplicating them (blue) or shuffling them around to new lineages via horizontal gene transfer (green). This makes evolutionary sense. What will produce a quicker response to changing conditions, taking an existing circuit module off the shelf and repurposing it, or shaping a whole new module from scratch through random change and selection?

This diagram gives no comfort to creationists. Look at the scale; each of the squares in the chart represents a half billion years of time. The period of rapid bacterial cladogenesis that produced the early spike is between 3.3 and 2.9 billion years ago — this isn't some brief, abrupt creation event, but a period of genetic tinkering sprawling over a period of time nearly equal to the entirety of the vertebrate fossil record of which we are so proud. And it's ongoing! The big red spike only shows the initial period of recruitment of certain genetic sequences to fill specific biochemical roles — everything that follows testifies to 3 billion years of refinement and variation.

The paper takes another step. Which genes are most ancient, which are most recent? Can we correlate the appearance of genetic functions to known changes in the ancient environment?

the metabolites specific to the Archaean Expansion (positive bars in Fig. 2 inset) include most of the compounds annotated as redox/e- transfer (blue bars), with Fe-S-binding, Fe-binding and O2-binding gene families showing the most significant enrichment (false discovery rate<5%, Fisher's exact test). Gene families that use ubiquinone and FAD (key metabolites in respiration pathways) are also enriched, albeit at slightly lower significance levels (false discovery rate<10%). The ubiquitous NADH and NADPH are a notable exception to this trend and seem to have had a function early in life history. By contrast, enzymes linked to nucleotides (green bars) showed strong enrichment in genes of more ancient origin than the expansion.

The observed bias in metabolite use suggests that the Archaean Expansion was associated with an expansion in microbial respiratory and electron transport capabilities.

So there is a coherent pattern: genes involved in DNA/RNA are even older than the spike (vestiges of the RNA world, perhaps?), and most of the genes associated with the Archaean expansion are associated with cellular metabolism, that core of essential functions all extant living creatures share.

Were we done then, as the creationists would like to imply? No. The next major event in the planet's history is called the Great Oxygenation Event, in which the fluorishing bacterial populations gradually changed the atmosphere, excreting more and more of that toxic gas, oxygen.

What happened next was a shift in the kinds of novel genes that appeared: these newer genes were involved in oxygen metabolism and taking advantage of the changing chemical constituents of the ocean.

Our metabolic analysis supports an increasingly oxygenated biosphere after the Archaean Expansion, because the fraction of proteins using oxygen gradually increased from the expansion to the present day. Further indirect evidence of increasing oxygen levels comes from compounds whose availability is sensitive to global redox potential. We observe significant increases over time in the use of the transition metals copper and molybdenum, which is in agreement with geochemical models of these metals' solubility in increasingly oxidizing oceans and with molybdenum enrichments from black shales suggesting that molybdenum began accumulating in the oceans only after the Archaean eon16. Our prediction of a significant increase in nickel utilization accords with geochemical models that predict a tenfold increase in the concentration of dissolved nickel between the Proterozoic eon and the present day but conflicts with a recent analysis of banded iron formations that inferred monotonically decreasing maximum concentrations of dissolved nickel from the Archaean onwards. The abundance of enzymes using oxidized forms of nitrogen (N2O and NO3) also grows significantly over time, with one-third of nitrate-binding gene families appearing at the beginning of the expansion and three-quarters of nitrous-oxide-binding gene families appearing by the end of the expansion. The timing of these gene-family births provides phylogenomic evidence for an aerobic nitrogen cycle by the Late Archaean.

So I don't get it. I don't see how anyone can look at that diagram, with its record of truly ancient genomic changes and its evidence of the steady acquisition of new abilities correlated with changes in the environment of the planet, and declare that it supports a creation event or front-loading of biological potential in ancestral populations. That makes no sense. This is work that shouts "evolution" at every instant, yet some people want to pretend it's an endorsement of theological hocus-pocus? Madness.

Scientists, you need to be aware of this. The David and Alm paper is an unambiguously evolutionary paper, using genomic data to describe evolutionary events via evolutionary mechanisms, and the creationists still appropriate and abuse it. If you publish anything about evolution, be sure to google your paper periodically — you may find that you've been unwittingly roped into endorsing creationism.



David LA, Alm EJ (2011) Rapid evolutionary innovation during an Archaean genetic expansion. Nature 469(7328):93-6.

36 Comments

There is nothing to “get”. There is no “how” in why creationists do what they do. There is only a desire to corrupt and lie about anything that would dare to show that they are not the special snowflakes that they claim to be.

Nothing new from RTB, they’ve been absolutely hopeless in their reporting of biological research for a long, long time. Their strategy appears to be to just make up any claim that they want, cite a random paper that has nothing to do with the claim they are making and hope that nobody will actually read the original research.

In fact, even YEC Todd Wood has spent a significant amount of time debunking a whole host of their articles.

Y’know … I can never really figure what to make of Wood. He doesn’t conceal being a YEC, but other than occasional diversions into theology that don’t make a lot of sense to me, on a technical basis I’ve never seen him to be anything less than a 100% straight shooter.

And, indeed, sometimes talking well over my layman’s head and clearly NOT making it up.

I really enjoyed this article. I have a couple of questions. You say: “This represents a period of early exploration and experimentation, when the first crude versions of the genes we use now were formed, tested, discarded if inefficient, and honed if advantageous.” The “discarded if inefficient” part leads to my question. Things that were truly discarded won’t be shown on this graph. Right? Because this data is about genes that still exist. So this is the data based on current genes, but in reality there are probably tons of (red) gene creation events that were completely deleted (yellow). I think I have that right I would just like to make sure.

Second, could you talk more about the ORFANS? You are saying these would add more red. Correct? But they were left out of the study why?

Thanks in advance, Ron

This happens all the time: if there’s a paper in one of the big journals that discusses more evidence for evolution, there is a creationist hack somewhere who’ll quickly write it up and lie about it.

There will be at least two quick creationist responses: one from Answers in Genesis and one from Uncommon Descent.

So, once again all of the data is completely consistent with evolutionary theory and every other data set. Great.

So I guess the only conclusion is that this is yet another research paper that falsifies evolution and proves ID. I don’t know how it does this, but I’m sure it can be misinterpreted to mean that somehow. After all, if someone can interpret the Lenski paper as meaning that we don’t know how life arose, therefore design, then anything is possible.

Why can’t these guys ever seem to understand any real science? Why can’t these guys understand that until you do the research you haven’t earned the right to interpret the research? Why can’t these guys ever accept the interpretation of the people who actually performed the research? What? Oh … never mind.

Never mind my question about ORFans. When I re-read it was obvious. They are unique to a lineage and this study was a comparison between lineages.

Our metabolic analysis supports an increasingly oxygenated biosphere after the Archaean Expansion, because the fraction of proteins using oxygen gradually increased from the expansion to the present day. Further indirect evidence of increasing oxygen levels comes from compounds whose availability is sensitive to global redox potential. We observe significant increases over time in the use of the transition metals copper and molybdenum, which is in agreement with geochemical models of these metals’ solubility in increasingly oxidizing oceans and with molybdenum enrichments from black shales suggesting that molybdenum began accumulating in the oceans only after the Archaean eon16. Our prediction of a significant increase in nickel utilization accords with geochemical models that predict a tenfold increase in the concentration of dissolved nickel between the Proterozoic eon and the present day but conflicts with a recent analysis of banded iron formations that inferred monotonically decreasing maximum concentrations of dissolved nickel from the Archaean onwards. The abundance of enzymes using oxidized forms of nitrogen (N2O and NO3) also grows significantly over time, with one-third of nitrate-binding gene families appearing at the beginning of the expansion and three-quarters of nitrous-oxide-binding gene families appearing by the end of the expansion. The timing of these gene-family births provides phylogenomic evidence for an aerobic nitrogen cycle by the Late Archaean.

This is really fascinating. It shows that living systems can span quite a range of chemical compositions and processes. So there may be many paths from non-living systems to living systems.

This not only complicates the search for abiogenesis by increasing the number of possibilities, it may actually increase the probability that someone will hit on a recipe that can makes the transition and evolves. Such systems seem to be highly sensitive to trace amounts of various elements; and that can really complicate a search.

We already know how trace amounts on the order of 10- 8 affects even simple systems based on silicon; there is an entire flourishing world-wide electronics industry based on it. And anybody connected with the medical and pharmaceutical industries certainly knows that trace amounts of various elements and compounds can have profound effects on living systems.

So in finding such a recipe, we may not hit on the one that actually occurred on Earth, but it would certainly demonstrate that it happens under a number of conditions. And it would definitely point to other possibilities that could exist in other temperature ranges and with other chemical compositions.

I tend to be optimistic about the possibilities of other life forms existing in other temperature ranges and composed of other concentrations of chemicals. It just seems that everything points in that direction. Once a relatively stable replicating system forms, it can become the “substrate” on which further evolution can occur.

Mike Elzinga said: … So in finding such a recipe, we may not hit on the one that actually occurred on Earth, but it would certainly demonstrate that it happens under a number of conditions.

And I predict that the creationist response will be, “Yeah, you created life, but you can’t prove that that’s what happened on Earth. You weren’t there! Besides, you mixed the chemicals in a lab hoping to make life, so this proves that there had to be a (wink, wink) Designer.”

Ah, I remember that paper! Good times. :-D

@ Ron Bear:

And, in case you didn’t figure it out already, AFAIU it is the comparison that sets the loss rate (not the actual loss). Excluding what will be ORFans blinking out of existence (remainders of gene families or ORFans disappearing again) is “a small loss”.

@ Mike Elzinga:

This not only complicates the search for abiogenesis by increasing the number of possibilities,

For general abiogenesis, certainly, and it is good news.

But I note that the paper actually constrains _our_ abiogenesis. The inset supports early RNA (DNA) and chemistry of phosphorous/ion gradients. Pretty much suggesting RNA world stuff with early protocells, as PZ noted.

Here is a recent meeting between bottom-up chemistry of self-assembling protocells and top-down behavior of simplified cells. Even suggesting enough of the selective pressures from such simple systems to robust cells and cell division functions to suit.

And of course the nominal rates involved are off the table with the recent discovery that the slowest biochemical reactions are speeded up most at higher temperatures, combined with natural enthalpic cofactors selected at lower. Exactly what an RNA parasite would like to life off.

All the pieces are found I think. The correct places are suggested, or at least we have suggestive possibilities.

Oops! “life off” - live off.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

For general abiogenesis, certainly, and it is good news.

But I note that the paper actually constrains _our_ abiogenesis. The inset supports early RNA (DNA) and chemistry of phosphorous/ion gradients. Pretty much suggesting RNA world stuff with early protocells, as PZ noted.

Here is a recent meeting between bottom-up chemistry of self-assembling protocells and top-down behavior of simplified cells. Even suggesting enough of the selective pressures from such simple systems to robust cells and cell division functions to suit.

And of course the nominal rates involved are off the table with the recent discovery that the slowest biochemical reactions are speeded up most at higher temperatures, combined with natural enthalpic cofactors selected at lower. Exactly what an RNA parasite would like to life off.

All the pieces are found I think. The correct places are suggested, or at least we have suggestive possibilities.

Constraints by cell walls may have replaced constraints by other types of interstitial formations within porous compounds.

Surface effects that take place near the interfaces of two regions are often much larger than effects within the bulk of a material. The reason is that at or near the surface of a material there are many more unpaired bonds than there are within the bulk where nearly all bonds are completed.

Thus the chemistry of all kinds of reactions can be catalyzed to go much faster simply by the spatial deformations of complex systems in close proximity with a surface.

So it is not surprising to find extremophiles deep within the Earth’s crust and in deep caves; and to find them drawing energy from different sources than the Sun.

I still suspect that the general rule in the chemistry of life will turn out to be that the initial replicating “substrates” on which it is built will have higher enthalpies of formation than what comes after. It appears to be a general rule throughout all of condensed matter that the more complex a system becomes, the shallower and more elaborate are spatial distributions of the binding energies of the subsequent stages in evolution.

And of course, more degrees of freedom allow for many more possible directions an evolving system can go. So again, there is nothing surprising about a Cambrian “explosion” as long as the larger environment has a stable enough temperature for evolutionary exploration to occur without the new systems being ripped apart.

Thanks for a _very_ interesting response!

Certainly a larger network of metabolic exploits would center on surfaces regardless of temperature, even though increased temperatures preferentially even out enthalpic differences. At the time cofactors kick in (because of that very fact), then according to your argument surface chemistry should be the main energy channel.

If so RNA parasites are the rescuers to cellular life, since in the absence of membranes they would copy any RNA as they start to catalyze their own assembly.

It is interesting that the protein factory enzyme, the preserved core of the ribosome is _not_ an enthalpic enzyme. At the time selection of protein synthesis fixed its function, using your reasoning the cell was already formed and volume chemistry was rampant.

This is encouraging, as the prediction of a mineral/metabolite cofactors-(m/m+RNA) cofactors-enzymes timeline is tested by such hypotheses.

Hmm, so the parasite thwarted the easy life on the surface and bought flexibility, complexity and robustness simply because it increased its fitness as it were. Shostak tells of the later, the former is to my knowledge a somewhat untold story as of yet.

He looks at the paper and claims it supports this silly idea called front-loading: the Designer seeded the Earth with creatures that carried a teleological evolutionary program, loading them up with genes at the beginning that would only find utility later.

He needs to read Dr. Sean Carroll’s The Making of the Fittest. He specifically deals with that ID claim of genes waiting around to be used at some later date. He demonstrates with many examples of how genes that aren’t crucial to survival develop mutations. e.g. our sense of smell, eyes and colouration of cave fish, hemoglobin production in ice fish, and others.

So any genes that are going to be sitting around waiting for a time when they can be used are going to be rendered useless by mutations (or in some cases are duplicated and/or develop a new capability like the mutation in the opsin gene that allows some some birds to see in the UV range).

In short, for genes it is a case of use it or lose it.

As an aside, I highly recommend Dr. Carroll’s book for anyone who hasn’t read it.

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Intelligent Designer said:

The existence of gene families, for cryin’ out loud, is evidence for evolution.

Why should the existence of gene families only be considered evidence for evolution? Inheritance and polymorphism are common software design practices that create families of classes. I consider the existence of gene families to be evidence of intelligent design.

Designing reusable components is also a common software design practice. It’s no suprise that gene families often cross the three domains of life.

The problem you have is, ANYTHING AT ALL would be support for intelligent design. Brand new stuff showing up out of nowhere? Human designs are full of it. Leftover stuff just hanging around from prior designs? Human designs are full of it. Things that work with beautiful, elegant simplicity? Ditto. Things that are sloppy kludges that barely work at all? Ditto.

In fact, there is NOTHING you can point to and say “An intelligent designer could not have done this.” But evolution is very tightly constrained. It MUST work incrementally, it MUST have slow historical development. There is a LOT anyone can point to and say “evolution could not have done this.”

Do you see the difference?

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How tiresome.

I seem to have provoked a catechism unrelated to the nominal topic (and contrary to common observation). Kind of like a magic 8-ball.

Flint said: Kind of like a magic 8-ball.

Somehow I think of fortune cookies from Panda Express, produced by a creationist subcontractor:

“There are no transitional fossils.”

“Hitler was a Darwinist.”

“Only intelligence can produce information.”

… and so on.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Intelligent Designer said:

mrg,

If you want to refute what I am saying make sure I said it. I have never said there are no transitional fossils nor demonized Darwin or science in any way. I will agree that only intelligence can produce information.

mrg did not claim that you trotted out EVERY tired old creationist canard, every PRATT we’re all so tired of. Only that you aped a standard creationist tradition of making a thoroughly refuted claim without ever once having it pass through any gray matter.

Intelligent Designer said:

If you want to refute what I am saying …

No.

Intelligent Designer said:

mrg,

If you want to refute what I am saying make sure I said it. I have never said there are no transitional fossils nor demonized Darwin or science in any way. I will agree that only intelligence can produce information.

Then why did you say this too?

Intelligent Designer said:

Yes I see the difference. Evolution by random mutation and natural selection purports to do the mathematically impossible.

You just lied by contradicting yourself! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

Please don’t give Randy Stimpson the time of day. He’s an idiot.

Sending a lying troll’s comments to the Bathroom Wall for being disruptive is not a violation of the 1st Amendment: otherwise not only would that be illegal, so would giving a rowdy kindergartener a timeout. That, and Randy Stimpson’s comments over the years have painted himself as a very whiny liar on top of being a snotty science-denier. Even if he was joking when he was trying to manipulate Prof. Myers into responding to his pathetically inane computer program, it never occurred to Mr Stimpson’s swelled head that Prof. Myers does not appreciate jokes where people put words into his mouth in order to manipulate him, at all.

And Mr Stimpson deludes himself if he thinks that people dislike him because they merely disagree with him: people dislike him because he’s a whiny, snotty pathological liar who is at odds with reality.

Creationists are a phony lot, but Stimpson is in a different league. Typically, they either believe their own phony talk, or it’s just some sort of rote verbiage that they just throw out to be troublesome and don’t otherwise think about it.

Stimpson, in contrast, is as deliberately and blatantly phony as he can exert himself to be, simply as a means of goading people.

mrg said:

Creationists are a phony lot, but Stimpson is in a different league. Typically, they either believe their own phony talk, or it’s just some sort of rote verbiage that they just throw out to be troublesome and don’t otherwise think about it.

Stimpson, in contrast, is as deliberately and blatantly phony as he can exert himself to be, simply as a means of goading people.

Stupidity that doesn’t come naturally but is self-inflicted; like doing a self-lobotomy up through the nose.

I suppose the question of intelligence hangs on the goals to be accomplished. In this case, it is very difficult to figure out what they are.

Stimpson claims he isn’t a fundy and he may be telling to the truth, for all it matters – “Tells the truth or tells a lie, still certain to deceive.” But what motive a strict secularist would have for embracing an antique doctrine like creationism that’s broadly similar to believing babies are delivered by the stork is very hard to understand.

There are, of course, broad-spectrum contrarians out there that obsessively object to everything – as demonstrated recently by J1m Fet5er – but as that case showed, they usually are contrarians about everything that comes down the road, not just a single topic.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Intelligent Designer said: My motives are the same as yours …

You talking to me? Don’t bother.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Hygaboo Andersen said:

*spam snipped*

Can we give this idiot the same treatment that has just been given to the other idiot, Randy Stimpson?

Somebody’s parental control software went kaput.

You can say that again!

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on April 27, 2011 12:03 PM.

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