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The systematic classification of life

Discussion in 'Creation & Evolution' started by Aron-Ra, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. Aron-Ra

    Aron-Ra Senior Veteran

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    If you have a short attention span, ignore the explanation, and skip to the question at the end.

    I figure it is probably impossible to oppose evolution if one has a good understanding of taxonomy. After all, every anti-evolutionist I have ever debated with demonstrated almost no understanding (or interest) in this subject whatsoever. What's more, any attempt to teach it to them only seems to result in their becoming more and more defensive as we proceed. But maybe that's just me. So I'll try again. But this time, I'm going to try to be systematic (pun intended). I prefer to do this in a series of questions and answers, (about three dozen in all) so I will give this explanation in interactive stages. Any creationist is welcome to respond. But I am particularly interested in reaching Oncedeceived and William Jay Schroeder.

    First understand that in evolutionary Theory, the transformation of fish-to-amphibians, dinosaurs-to-birds, or apes-to-men are essentially nothing noteworthy; just a matter of incremental, superficial changes slowly compiled atop various tiers of fundamental similarities. Those successive levels of similarity represent taxonomic clades.

    The biggest changes concern only the smallest parts, the initial, fundamental structures. And once in place, these are also the hardest things to change. This is because DNA controls the organization of cells at two levels. At the most direct level, it controls the structure of the cell itself. In this capacity, the genetic code has already been fine-tuned for about a billion years longer than any multicellular organisms even existed. Because of this, the systems and mechanisms within the cell have been refined for extreme efficiency, and the genetic replication of the cell itself is almost perfect. However, the second level of replication is not in the construct of the cell, but in the assembly of numerous cells into complex (and wildly variable) multicellular configurations. The genetic code is significantly more prone to error in this expanded arena, especially since so many different arrangements will work. In addition, mutations occuring in one cell will not be distributed system-wide unless inherited, so there will be variance just within any collective of a single type of cell. This means that the surface appearance of any organism may be dramatically different from its kin, but the foundational structures and mechanisms shared with them are much more difficult to change even over substantially longer periods of time. So there have been relatively few really significant macroevolutionary events since the dawn of life on this planet. All of them were a really long time ago, and most of them have been at the sub-cellular level, before there even were any multicellular anythings. Every other evolutionary stage is a comparatively trivial, inevitable consequence of an imperfect copying process amid variable environmental and reproductive pressures and endless functional possibilities..

    The taxonomic concept of clades provides the reason why, whenever there evolves a new species of fly, the creationists get to say "but its still a fly". Of course it is. It has to be, and it always will be no matter what else it may evolve into later on. For one thing, the old fly and the new one will only be superficially different but fundamentally similar. But cladistically, everything that evolved from a fly is still a fly even if it doesn't look like a fly anymore. If a Japanese couple get married, and move to some other country, the bride may have a new name, and she may be classed in a new family. But she is still tied to her heritage. She is still a child of her homeland, and a member of her old family, and so will her descendants always be. The same concept applies in cladistics. Since a descendant can't evolve out of their ancestry, then everything that ever evolved from a fish is still a fish, and that includes horses, dinosaurs, and people.

    While you're scratching your head over that, I'll explain the concept of clades. Most people view evolution as a tree, or more appropriately, a tumbleweed, where every limb leads to several branches, and each branch leads to several twigs. Clades are the names for the limbs, branches, and twigs. Clades are systematic structure of descendant groups within ancestral groups within even larger, [and usually older] ancestral groups. One example clade is Aves, "birds". A lesser clades is "ducks". All ducks are birds, meaning that all ducks are within the Avian clade. But not all birds are ducks because "birds" is a parent clade of which "ducks" are but a single sub-group.

    At the same time, remember that no matter what a duck evolves into, creationists will still be able to say "but its still a bird." They don't realize this, but the problem with that is that birds are "still" dinosaurs too. Speaking in terms of parent and daughter species, even if you become something your parents were not, you're still doomed to remain whatever they were. Your children will be whatever you are, and whatever your parents were.

    Now I'll introduce most basic [foundational] clades.

    First, to be an organism, one must also be organic. All life on Earth is Carbon-based. Any Carbon-based molecule is considered organic largely because some carbon-based molecules were only known to exist when they were created by living organisms. If there is life on other worlds, it may or may not have DNA. But it will likely still be a Carbon-based "organism".

    Next, to be an organism, one must also be alive. On Earth, everything we like to call "life" is also based on replicative RNA/DNA proteins. There are two main sub-categories of this, only one of which is actually considered to be alive, even though both can be killed, and killed by similar methods. Most biologists do not consider viruses to be alive because they lack metabolism. Metabolism means that cells can perform various chemical functions within themselves enabling them to maintain some level of homeostasis, a balanced internal environment.

    Now for the first question about your acceptance of cladistics or of your place in taxonomy: As creationists, do you accept that, as a life-form, you are also an organic RNA/DNA protein-based metabolic organism? A simple answer is all I need, and we'll continue from there.
     
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  2. william jay schroeder

    william jay schroeder Quaker Man

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    I think yes and no. we are a organism that is controlled by what the RNA/DNA do and are programed to do. Or we are what the codes in the RNA/DNA make us. At birth we grow into humans by what the encoded DNA makes along with traits from the parents, which is what makes us unigue. to me with out this trait inheritence we would all be the same look the same and probably act the same. This goes as well with animals. without this all animals would be very similiar as well. As most are very similair but slightly different in color or size. Take a zebra they all look alike unless you look closely and your see there stripes are all different. Also whales they all have a mark that you can identify them with. I'll stop there and let you go on to what ever your getting to.
     
  3. Aron-Ra

    Aron-Ra Senior Veteran

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    I hear you saying "yes and no", but explaining only "yes". Before I continue, why do you also say "no"?
     
  4. Lilandra

    Lilandra Princess-Majestrix

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    Hi my username is Lilly and I am a life-form, which is to say that I am also an organic RNA/DNA protein-based metabolic organism.

    As a Christian I am not supposed to swear by anything so you'll have to take my word for it.

    I just want to thank you for the summation. The evolution of species from one cell to multicellular life is hard to parse. I am curious are there organisms composed of 2 or 3 cells?

    Oh I wanted to add that before I accept cladistics or my assigned place in the taxonomy I need a little more to go on.


     
  5. Aron-Ra

    Aron-Ra Senior Veteran

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    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But I guess I'm gullable enough to believe you're alive, Lilly ....if that is your real name.
    My definition of species isn't even applicable at this level. For me, the evolution of species doesn't begin for a good while after this stage. Species is an end-taxa. And we've got a long way to go before we mention any "species" in this discussion.
    The smallest quasi-multicellular organism I know of is Dictyostellium, the slime mould who travels as an amoebic worm. When it eats, it dissolves into about 1,000 individual amoebas which ingest through osmosis. Then they get back on the bus, so to speak, recombining as a single communal "animal", and going about its way.
    Understood. Let's see if I can accomidate.

    The most basic, (basal) fundamental, and encompassing sub-categories within "living organisms" are the domains, Eukarya and Prokarya. Prokarya is divided between Eubacteria and Archea, both often collectively described simply as bacteria. Prokaryotes are much smaller than Eukaryote cells, and do not contain a nucleus. Eukaryote cells do have a nucleus as well as some other sub-cellular features unique to this clade.

    Everything which produces eukaryote cells is defined as a Eukaryote itself. And with the exception of viruses, (which are not considered to be "true" life forms) everything that is undeniably alive is bacteria except for Eukaryotes. Or (from your perspective) the only things that aren't eukaryotes are bacteria.

    If you are a living organism, (as you claim to be) then you must also have descended from other living organisms. Now if you accept that you are an organic RNA/DNA protein-based organism consisting of metabolic, nucleic cells, do you also accept your classification into the taxonomic tree of life as part of the domain, Eukarya?
     
  6. JohnR7

    JohnR7 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you should try a new teaching methoid. Intimidation does not always work on everyone.
     
  7. JohnR7

    JohnR7 Well-Known Member

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    "must" if this were the case then there would be no beginning. Yet we know that living organisms as you describe have not always existed.
     
  8. Oncedeceived

    Oncedeceived Senior Veteran

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    Your two second a day response is somewhat too simple as is your question. To me it is like asking the first day if I like peanuts, the next day asking if cashews are good and the next trying to determine if almonds are tasty and then springing the conclusion that I am a nut on the very last question. :)

    Seriously, how in the world do you hope to have any meaningful dialog when this one question is so general and loaded? The complexity of the human body can not be so general or simple. In fact is taxonomy that simple? We have had a catogory of two and now we have three after all this time.

    But I'll answer your question as not to appear to ignore it. Yes, I feel that we are an organic RNA/DNA protein-based metabolic organism. But I will add that I feel that we are more than that as well.
     
  9. Aron-Ra

    Aron-Ra Senior Veteran

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    And therein lies the quandary. How do you explain that?

    Now as a layman, you are free to say it was magic. But to me, that's no explanation. Its an excuse. Plus you would try to go twelve steps further and cite the Bible. But that wouldn't work even if God were real, because Genesis has been proven wrong on nearly every point back-to-front. So whatever the truth is, we already know the Bible ain't it. Not only that, but we know that men are apes, and that new species evolve. And that means already that an evolutionary explanation is going to be more accurate than any fable involving magic words, talking animals, and animated dirt golems.

    Faith has always been useless, even counterproductive, in the endeavor of science. By assuming firm convictions at the onset, you're ensuring that you'll never learn anything. So as a scientist, I am required to come up with some natural explanation. And I can use any phenomenon which comes to mind and might potentially be involved. But whatever it is, I have to be able to show that it is at least probably real.

    I know that a cellular membrane is made of a phospholipid bilayer, and that due to its molecular properties, these will form automatically and immediately when immersed in water. Sometimes they form as two-ply fluid-filled spheres which can protect acids, protiens, and other internal elements. In my studies of cellular biology, I have discovered an amazing complexity in the smallest aspects of life. But I have also discovered that transport vesicles and other such systems inside the cell operate entirely on incidental, even accidental circumstances. So it is at least possible that some of the more complex arrangements of the cells managed to form themselves. It is also possible that a god designed them. But we have no reason to believe that any god exists. I certainly can't show that one does. And if we use the excuse that Goddidit, we would never have learned any of the important things we've discovered about how the world really works. So even if we believe in God, we can see that he has obviously always used natural mechanisms for everything else he's made in the world, so why not this too?
     
  10. Aron-Ra

    Aron-Ra Senior Veteran

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    Instead, I said you're a nut on the very next question. The word, Eukaryote means "true nut" in Greek.
    The questions aren't loaded. They really aren't. All I can say is that I haven't rigged anything. I am citing literal cladistic taxonomy by the book. The implications do oppose Biblical creationism. But then, what doesn't?
    It starts out very simple indeed. But by the time we get to the end taxa, (if we get that far) it will be extraordinarily complex.
    For some reason, you hate to be categorized this way. But you don't mind thinking of yourselves as statues of animated mud. I don't get it.

    But rest assured that no matter how much anyone says about what we are, you will always be able to say that we are more than that. I certainly never intended to say you're only a living thing, and that's it. Nor would I say that Consideringlily was just a Protestant, and that't it. In some other conversation, that might be the only relevant word to describe her. But so far in this conversation, the very least that you are is an intricate and complex organic living entities.

    Before I bring up the third round, I'm going to give Ray and ConsideringLily a chance to toss in their two cents about the 2nd question which I have already posed, and will repeat for you also. I assume you agree with this too?

    The most basic, (basal) fundamental, and encompassing sub-categories within "living organisms" are the domains, Eukarya and Prokarya. Prokarya is divided between Eubacteria and Archea, both often collectively described simply as bacteria. Prokaryotes are much smaller than Eukaryote cells, and do not contain a nucleus. Eukaryote cells do have a nucleus as well as some other sub-cellular features unique to this clade.

    Everything which produces eukaryote cells is defined as a Eukaryote itself. And with the exception of viruses, (which are not considered to be "true" life forms) everything that is undeniably alive is bacteria except for Eukaryotes. Or (from your perspective) the only things that aren't eukaryotes are bacteria.

    If you are a living organism, as are all the ancestors you know of, then you have descended from other living organisms. Now if you accept that you are an organic RNA/DNA protein-based organism consisting of metabolic, nucleic cells, -then do you also accept your classification into the taxonomic tree of life as part of the domain, Eukarya?
     
  11. Oncedeceived

    Oncedeceived Senior Veteran

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    Instead, I said you're a nut on the very next question. The word, Eukaryote means "true nut" in Greek.



    lOL, you are sooooo predictible.

    That was really good made my laugh for the day and now one more look in the apologetics and off to study.
     
  12. Oncedeceived

    Oncedeceived Senior Veteran

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    Still laughing. I didn't realize that you had a sense of humor.(okay where is the smilie with the tongue sticking out?)

    Okay, I believe you.
    That has yet to be seen. :)

    Okay, I'll wait.
    Categorized which way? I don't think of myself as a statue of animated mud exactly. I think of myself more like a continuem of statues of mud....maybe. :idea:
    I can agree with that.

    A new development has caused Carl Woese of the University of Illinois to propose reorganizing the Tree of Life into three separate Domains: Eukarya, Eubacteria (true bacteria), and Archaea.
    [/QUOTE]

    Somewhat yes. I would put myself into these catagory due to the fact that we are discussing scientific jargon.
     
  13. Loudmouth

    Loudmouth Contributor

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    Great thread Aron-Ra. I can see exactly where your going with this one. And just to put the creationists at ease, there is nothing malfeasant about this line of questioning. All of the preceding and future questions deal with your earthly body, so don't feel like use evos are going to tear out your soul at the very end.

    I need a refresher course on the classifications of deuterosomes, metazoans, etc. so I'll be lurking later. Again, great idea for a thread.
     
  14. Oncedeceived

    Oncedeceived Senior Veteran

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    I don't know..... :eek: :D
     
  15. JohnR7

    JohnR7 Well-Known Member

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    How would I explain it? Simple your statement is in error. You would have to change "must" to something like "most likely".

    "If you are a living organism, (as you claim to be) then you must also have descended from other living organisms."
     
  16. Oncedeceived

    Oncedeceived Senior Veteran

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    I have a question for you. If I am an organic RNA/DNA protein-based organism based on a prior ancestor that was also the same; where did the RNA/DNA orginate? If we are going to start at the beginning we should probably start there.
     
  17. Aron-Ra

    Aron-Ra Senior Veteran

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    I did. I said you were Carbon-based before I said you were alive. I know a good deal about evolution. But how organic molecules and nucleotides came together to form DNA is a whole other process. Life couldn't evolve as we know it until DNA became part of the equation. We have no good theories to explain the formation of life and genetics to that point. But we've got a really solid argument for what happened after that.

    As it doesn't look like Lilly or Jay are going to make any further comments, I'll just go ahead with part III.

    Here is where we start to get into the concept of common ancestry.

    If you are a eukaryote, and so are all the ancestors you know about, then you have descended from eukaryotes. The domain, Eukarya consists of several sub-groups, including plants, algae, and most protists, except those which appear to be collectively related as opisthokonts. This eukaryote sub-category is not a formal taxon, but it is a unique grouping of organisms in which those cells which propel themselves with flagellum have that appendage mounted in the posterior "pushing" position. Most opisthokont cells don't have flagellum except on their reproductive spores or sperm. The flagellate cells of most other organisms either pull themselves with a front-mounted flagella, or they swim with myriad cilia.

    Opisthokonts include microspores and thier apparent descendants, fungi, as well as Choanoflagellates and all their apparent descendants in the animal kingdom. Now if all life were specially-created, you might think that some animals would have bikont reproductive cells, or sperm which crawl on cillia like prokaryote cells do. But so far, not one animal or fungus is like that. They are all opisthokont, as if that trait appeared as an extremely rare and pivotal mutation among certain protists, and was then inherited by all the generations to flower out of that line since. The common ancestry model obviously explains this fact, but to date, no creationist of any sort has ever been able to offer any alternative explanation for this or any of the other trends we see in taxonomy.

    Opisthokonts are "nested" within the taxonomic kingdom, Protista. This is (I think) the only time that happens in the whole spectrum of taxonomy. Sister clades aren't usually nested in their own siblings. But the reason for it in this case is that Protists are such an ancient group that they're amazingly diverse, and have all been erroneously lumped into a single clade for ease of classification. Otherwise, there should be more than a dozen different kingdoms of life, and all but a very few of them would be Protists.

    Those interested in transitional species should look at a group of protists called slime moulds, some of which appear to live as fungus and some as animals. The position of evolutionary theory and the model of common ancestry is that "simple" single-celled organisms are a lot harder to form than it is to form complex multicellular forms out of them. And there is substantial evidence in the record of microfossils that various forms of algae and such existed in different parts of the world's oceans as much as a billion years before anything recognizable as a plant or animal.

    The slime mould, Dictyostellium represents the method by which scientist consider that life made the move from one to many cooperative cells. At some point, it seems clear that communal organisms like this stopped dissolving themselves every time they wanted to eat, once the movement of internal cells facilitated some means of internal distribution. These cells of course eventually became dependant on the surrounding body, and lost the ability to survive independent of it. Dead cells and waste material, (including calcium and keratin) was of course pushed to the outside where they became a covering, like skin, bone or shell. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    In animals, these hard formations appear to have begun as crystaline spicules. So those interested in finding transitional forms here should also look at choanoflagellates as an intermediate form from fungus-like protists to the mother of all animals. Another of the evident trends of evolution is that the offspring of two closely-related organisms will be more primitive than its parents, in that it will look more like the common ancestor of both than the adults of either species will. And choanoflagellates very closely-resemble the nymph stage of sponges. Recently, a team of taxonomists, geneticists, and microbiologists sampled DNA from dozens of animals, and sequenced a single gene common to all animal species. This revealed a parent pattern implicating the sponge as the most basal of all macroscopic animals.
    Sogin Labs' "Shape of Life" project

    Living organisms consist of two (or three) groups including Eukaryotes
    The Domain, Eukarya consists of several subgroups including kingdom; Animalia.

    So the next true taxon is the animal kingdom. Animals are metazoan (multicellular). And what sets them apart from all other life forms is that they are unable to make their own food, and must ingest and digest other organisms in order to sustain themselves. Fungi do this too, but animals do it by way of an internal digestive tract. Animals are also identified at the cellular level by the fact that they lack cell walls and are always diploid except as gametes.

    So as an organic RNA/DNA protein-based metabolic, metazoic, nucleic and diploid-celled opisthokont organism which must ingest and digest other organisms internally to sustain itself, do you accept by the very definition of the word, that you are (biologically) an animal?
     
  18. Oncedeceived

    Oncedeceived Senior Veteran

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    Perhaps, but as with any good theory one must have the basic foundation to form the "house" so to speak. Now if we are all decendants that began with the RNA/DNA equation and the story goes on from there we must have the beginning to start this process. If RNA/DNA is the "beginning" we must have the story of this beginning...right? If we don't have this first evolutionary step that is a gap and you told me in the other thread that there are no gaps in the theory.



    Here is where we start to get into the concept of common ancestry.
    So when did this sub-group evolve the flagellum and how did it evolve?
    Define specially-created. Why would you think that some animals would have bikont reproductive cells....etc. if they were "specially-created?


    If it were extremely rare what gave it the extra edge so to speak to be inherited by all the generations since?
    You haven't really explained it, you have stated it as something that is present but you haven't explained it. What explanation does evolution give this event?
     
  19. Imblessed

    Imblessed Reformed Baptist with a Quaker heritage

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    This is Jay, at parents under different name. i would agree with oncedecieved on his reply. You put in a few as if's and it seems in your post. These dont help your arguement, but assume you assume. i am considered a animal by your definnition. But it seems odd to me that these organisms evolved but yet are still very much around us and some in side of us. There are more bacteria in us then i would like to think. I do hope they do not evolve into something while inside of me. But that stated you may go on. I'll ignore the fact brought up of the DNA comeing to exsistence because i know you have not a clue of this. and im curious to where this will lead to. And besides i'm going to learn a lot out of it. I admit i do not know near what you do so this method works for me.
     
  20. Lilandra

    Lilandra Princess-Majestrix

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    But I am following the thread.

     
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