A biology/evolutionary quesiton that I should have been able to answer...
This is a question to the biologists out there. I’ve taken a few semesters in biology at college, but I found myself unable to give an answer I was satisfied with. I’m a chemist, not a biologist.
A little bit about me to flesh out the context... I used to be a hard-core conservative theist that believed there was overwhelming evidence to believe in God, and also to believe in a literal translation of the bible. Long story short, I found out that all my reasoning was circular and based on information which was flat out wrong. I’m still very good friends with many of the people from my old church and I argue with them from time to time.
My stance was that “I believe in religion because above everything else, that’s where the evidence leads. I’m a slave to that evidence”. It turned to “I don’t believe in God or the supernatural because I haven’t seen any real evidence to suggest the existence of such a thing” (Quite the change ).
But anyway, I was arguing with a friend of mine, and he claims that there is a slow and constant breakdown of the DNA of humans over time, and that we are a dying race. He goes on to say that this is a result of the perfect genome of adam and eve (I should have nailed him and had him define perfect) and that this is evidence to suggest a near-perfect original genome and a slow slide downhill.
To sum it up, he says that we are ‘copies’ of ‘copies’ of ‘copies’ of an original, and that with each generation, we slowly degrade. That’s his belief.
I’m rusty on my cellular meiosis and mitosis, but my answer to ‘DNA breaking down” (damn, I should have really nailed him for that terminology… haha) was that meiosis is a separate process then mitosis… and its mitosis that he is obviously referencing when he talks about genetic breakdown (aging). I still wasn’t sure how to answer his question though, because yes, over time our DNA does become damaged (beyond what our enzymes can normally repair) but that dosn't mean that we are 'breaking down'. I assume that he believes judgement day is either on the day that we lose the ability to pro-create, or before it.
As for this discrediting evolution, I explained to him that evolution is the change in a population’s allelic distribution over time. More DNA does not mean a ‘better’ organism: the arrangement of the bases within DNA is that causes mutation/physical traits. So suggesting that more genetic material is better (iirc the vast majority of genetic information is condensed around the histone protiens is junk and not expressed) is not how evolution functions. So the conception that we are losing bits of data over time.
I also told him that genetic diversity, the fact that two organisms both donate to the offspring, helps to add new genetic information and pickup where one partner may have left off. I was weak on providing the mechanics to explain this (this is first year bio stuff, ffs and I stuffed it).
Isn’t it annoying that the non-believer does all the scientific legwork? It’s essential to force the person making the claim (as he was, claiming that we are breaking down) to supply their own body of evidence, but I was sure I could explain to him quickly why that’s a common misconception. Now it has grown into a nagging question that’s bothering me. I know that when I give him a better answer he’ll just shrug it off and move to the next little nit-picky issue he has. But I want to know for my own reasons.
Also, it’s important to show the believer that my stance is rational and can be defended through logical and scientific means. After that I can put the ball in his court.
So yeah, thanks for the help if anyone can field this. I skimming my old notes and bio text, but couldn’t find something which addressed this idea specifically. Thanks for reading the wall of text.