Monday, July 23, 2012

Creationists blow a fuse over chromosome 2

A while ago the gorilla genome was published. And it was pointed to by creationists as evidence that evolution is wrong (see my post here). Now the gorilla genome is fueling another spat between the forces of creationism and science. In particular what information that the gorilla genome can provide to help sort out the fusion on human chromosome 2.

Carl Zimmer explains the new evidence for fusion on his blog "The Loom". The discussion of the evidence for chromosome fusion is a prelude to a great story about creationist posturing and misdirection. Carl simply wanted to know what evidence there was to support their claim that the fusion of chromosome 2 couldn't have occurred since the split of our lineage from the chimpanzee lineage.

To hide the fact that there is no evidence to support this claim, they challenged him to a debate. When he turned them down for various good reasons and restated that he just wanted some evidence to support their claim, they crowed that he had folded. But, Larry Moran points out that they only like debates when they are on their turf and on their terms. Let's not forget that he didn't fold, he is still asking for evidence.

Let's also not forget that Carl has already outlined the case he would espouse in the debate. The creationists have not responded to the claims Carl made in his original post in any meaningful way. The fury with which they have confronted him is, to me, a little surprising. But, Larry Moran calls it "typical" and speculates about why Carl's request for evidence might have caused so much fuss.

The creationists have now provided Carl with the evidence he was requesting. And, as expected, it's completely pathetic. Basically the evidence boils down to misrepresenting the findings of a paper that has been superseded by the more recent findings that Carl describes in his original post. On the upside, I've learnt some interesting things about chromosomes and genome evolution that I probably wouldn't have otherwise.

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