The Instigator
Relax
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
baggins
Con (against)
Winning
25 Points

Evolutionary biology

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
baggins
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/14/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,527 times Debate No: 17497
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (4)

 

Relax

Pro

I will argue that we have sufficient evidence to support evolution as a well established theory of biodiversity. Burden of proof is on me to provide evidence, and my opponent is supposed to disprove/show weakness in my evidence/arguments.

1st round to clarification and accept of challenge. 2-5th round for arguments and rebuttals.
baggins

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for initiating this debate.

The living world is full of immense diversity. From giant blue whale to bacteria. From ferocious lion to humble grass. It would indeed be rare to find a person who is not amazed by the inhabitants of our beloved planet earth!

Theory of Evolution seeks to offer a simple solution to the puzzle of biodiversity. It claims that all life forms have a common origin. Modern evolutionary theory explains the diversity of life as caused by gradual changes in genetic code of living beings, primarily through genetic mutation and natural selection.

Pro will affirm that the modern evolutionary theory is sufficient to explain diversity of life.

Con will argue that any evidence presented by Pro is wrong, misleading or otherwise insufficient to explain origin of biodiversity. It is not compulsory for Con to present an alternative theory.

It is important to note that I am not arguing in favor of Intelligent design. My solution to puzzle of life is, "I don't know". This is a perfectly acceptable scientific answer.

I accept all terms and conditions as outlined by Pro. The only addition I would like to insist upon is that no new arguments are permitted in fifth round. The final round is only for rebuttals and conclusions. This is a standard rule which will benefit him rather than me, as otherwise he will not get a chance to answer any new argument I might introduce in last round.

Looking forward to arguments from Relax ...

Debate Round No. 1
Relax

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting the challenge and I look forward to hear his thoughts. I'm sure they will be interesting :)

The case for Evolution: Endogenous retrovirus
Retrovirus' are virus' whom enters into a host cell and then uses reverse transcribtase enzymes to get itself implemented into the host cell's DNA, where it can then get copied by using the host cells resources and mechanisms. Sometimes though, these can enter germ cells in which they get implimented into the very foundation of the DNA, which could potentially become offspring. Another thing that can happen to vira, which also happens to all life, is mutations. If both of these things happens, and succesful offspring comes out of it, then we can track all the subsequent descendants of that parent, because every offspring in that line will most likely contain this particular retrovirus in that exact position.

An Endogenous retrovirus are what these fixed ancient virus are called. There is no reason, why two different lineages, like chimps and humans, should share the same ERV in the exact same position in their genome, besides common ancestry or extreme chance. The reason why it has to be extreme chance is because of following:

Your genome contains around 3,2 billion nucleotides. That is 3200000000 letters which codes for you. A retrovirus insertion can enter in between all these nucleotides, so the chance of it ending where ever it ends, it had a 1 in 3,2b chance for that.

For it to land in the exact same position for both you and chimps, by chance, meaning, without common descent and biological relatedness, the chance would be 1/3,2b^2 which gives=9.765625 × 10^-20 or to put it another way, around 1 in 980000000000000000000 (rounded)

However, the fact is that we share more than 1 ERV with chimps. In a paper[1] they mention 16 ERV sites that both chimps and humans have in common, the chance of this would be something along the lines of this: (1 / 3 200 000 000)^16 = 8.27180613 × 10^-153

In fact, we share far more ERV's than that, but I might get into that later.

Randomness
I've heard claims that ERV's aren't so random, and tends to select its insertion site in a higher rate in active coding sites, rather than in non-coding areas. However even if we redo the calculations and narrow ourselves to 0,1% of the genome, which is far less than the active part of the genome, but just to help the critics, we go with this number. This would leave only 3,2 million insertion sites, and with 16 ERV's in the exact same place, that would be left to chance, the chance would be (1 / 3 200 000)^16 = 8.27180613 × 10^-105.

So that woulds till render it so immensely unlikely, that common descent is the only rational explanation.

[1]C. M. Romano, R. F. Ramalho, and P. M. de A. Zanotto; Tempo and mode of ERV-K evolution in human and chimpanzee genomes. Arch Virol (2006) 151: 22152228
baggins

Con

Many thanks to Relax for his efforts.

== Introduction ==

Readers would have noticed by now, that Relax is not trying to prove that evolution is explanation for all the diversity in nature. Rather he is using genetic arguments to argue that humans and chimps have same origin. I welcome this. This enables us to have in depth argument about one scientific problem and do adequate justice to it. Judges are requested to vote according to the topics discussed rather than resolution of the debate.

On other hand, I will still assume that we are still talking about human and chimps having common origin as generally predicted by modern evolution theory. For example, I will assume that in my opponent's world view, human and chimps were having common origin 7 (+- 2) million years and that the process of evolution started few billion years ago. [1]

== Rebuttals ==

My opponent has chosen one particular ERV virus (ERV-K virus) and has done some probabilistic analysis based on that. I have several objections.

Is site selection a random?: To do the kind of probabilistic analysis my opponent has done, we have to first ensure that ERV-K can choose any point in DNA sequence completely randomly. Pro has not presented details of mechanism by which ERV is inserted into the genetic sequence. Pro is aware of this problem, as he acknowledges that a retro-virus is more likely to attack active regions of genetic code. This is not the only problem. It is also possible is that particular ERVs look out for particular code sequence n DNA and then try to attach themselves at that location. If this happens, the number of available locations for a particular ERV will be drastically reduced. Until Pro presents clear evidence that the genetic code sequence itself plays no role in ERV attacks, it is obvious that the kind of probability calculation he has done is premature.

Mismatches: Pro tries to make it sound as if there were exactly 16 matches and zero mismatches. That is simply wrong. As per the abstract of the paper cited by Pro [2] (though he had not provided the links)

…we identified and characterized 76 complete ERV-K elements, 54 in human (HERV-K), 34 of which were described previously, and 21 in the chimpanzee (CERV-K)."

Out of this, as my opponent informs us, 16 were at identical locations. So what about the others?

As per modern theory of evolution, humans and chimps have been separate for 7 million years. But they had identical parentage for several billion years. Let us assume the common parentage to be one billion years. In that case, only 7/1000 parts of the ERVs should be at different locations! That is roughly one part in 150. Clearly the mismatches are much more than that.

How do scientists explain this discrepancy? They argue that the particular ERV may not have originated a billion years ago. This is a valid explanation. But then they use the percentage of mismatches and the assumption that human and chimps had shared ancestry to date the particular ERV! This makes any probabilistic analysis on mismatch / match ratio to verify evolution essentially cyclic. Until there is an independent way to find out the age of ERVs, ERV matches are useless as arguments in favor of evolution.

Small sample size: It is unclear why my opponent chose this particular ERV. As per some estimates, around 8% of human genetic code consists of ERV [3]. In light of this fact, my opponent’s argument about 16 matches is laughably anecdotal.

The Turn: Why limit ourselves to comparison of ERVs. How about comparison of complete genetic code?

As per [4], there is 5% difference in genetic codes of human and chimps. This means, 5% difference in 7 million years. To help my opponent and ease calculations, let us make it 10 million years. Humans and chimps have allegedly shared the genetic codes for several billion years. Let us be a bit gracious to my opponent and assume evolution started one 1 billion years.

Different time / Total time = 10 millon / 1000 million ~ 1 / 100

Different code / Total code = 5/100 ~ 1 / 20

Please note, I have modified the first figure to assist my opponent. If I put in the real values, the first figure will become drastically smaller. 5 million years will make it 1 / 200! The difference in figure indicates something is seriously wrong with evolution theory.

I reserve my right to present more arguments in next round. Looking forward to rebuttals from Relax!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://resources.metapress.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.pnas.org...

Debate Round No. 2
Relax

Pro

Relax forfeited this round.
baggins

Con

My opponent forfieted. Moreover his account appears to be extinct. This is indeed unfortunate.

Extending all my arguments...
Debate Round No. 3
Relax

Pro

Relax forfeited this round.
baggins

Con

This was not the way I wanted to win this. On other hand - a win is always welcome!

VOTE CON
Debate Round No. 4
Relax

Pro

Relax forfeited this round.
baggins

Con

Extending all arguments ...
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Relax 5 years ago
Relax
Fair, I'll decrease it.

Just accept it immediately, we've been given 3 days each, which gives me to Sunday ;P
Posted by baggins 5 years ago
baggins
Kindly decrease the voting period. A month or so should be fine. Indefinite voting period doesn't really mean anything.
Posted by baggins 5 years ago
baggins
Thanks for the challenge. I have been looking for something like this for quite some time. Should I accept immediately or wait till Saturday as you earlier asked.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
RelaxbagginsTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
RelaxbagginsTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited, leaving arguments unanswered.
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
RelaxbagginsTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
RelaxbagginsTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: forfeit