My most popular post last year was: An Intelligent Design Creationist disputes the evolution of citrate utilization in the LTEE ... Lenski responds. It had almost 20,000 views and 227 comments.The article discussed a paper by Intelligent Design Creationist Scott Minnich who criticized Richard Lenski's ongoing evolution experiment on the grounds that no new information had been created in the evolution of ability to use citrate.
Intelligent Design Creationists are not happy about this experiment because it not only shows evolution in action but it also illustrates features of the process that ID proponents don't understand; features like drift, neutral alleles, and contingency that expose the ignorance of the average creationist. However, there are a few ID proponents who actually understand evolution so they are forced to come up with other kinds of criticism to soften the impact of the results coming out of the Lenksi lab.Lenski and his postdoc, Zachary Blount, responde to the critique. I summarized the exchange as follows,
One of those creationists is Scott Minnich, a professor and researcher at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho (USA). Minnich wants you to believe that the LTEE isn't significant because no new genetic information was created. This is part of a strategy to accept microevolution but deny that macroevolution can be explained by naturalistic processes.
Minnich's lab did some experiments in order to replay the evolution of citrate utilization in E. coli cultures. They found that they could evolve strains that utilized citrate under aerobic conditions but in their hands it took much less time than it took in the LTEE and it was much more likely to occur. (Recall that the Cit+ phenotype only evolved in one of the twelve cultures in the LTEE and it took 30,000 generations.) Here's the Minnich paper and the abstact.
Evolution works by modifying pre-existing DNA to create new genes or new regulatory elements from sequences that were already present in the genome. Creationists seem to think that new genetic information has to be "poofed" into existence from nothing or it doesn't count as new information. They would like very much to demonstrate that there are real examples of such magic because that would lend support to their claim that goddidit. So far they haven't come up with a single, credible, example of such a gene so they have to be content with denying that evolution can create new genetic information.Surprisingly, some people wanted to debate this point!
It's sad, really.