'Periodic Table for Flies' Is Guesswork, Not Science | The Institute for Creation Research
'Periodic Table for Flies' Is Guesswork, Not Science

Researchers have constructed a new evolutionary tree for flies that purports to show which types of fly likely evolved into other types. Researchers call this map the "new periodic table for flies."1 But this is misleading, since the table is subjective and historical and thus contrasts with the periodic table of elements, which was constructed based on repeatable experimentation.

A North Carolina State University press release stated:

Using the most complete set of fly genetic and structural anatomy data ever collected, the [research] paper shows that members of the oldest, still-living fly families are rare, anatomically strange flies with long legs and long wings that grow up in fast-flowing mountain waters.1

But how could genetic and structural data determine which of today's flies is most similar to "the oldest" flies? The procedure for building evolutionary trees requires many assumptions, and one of them is the decision of which fly best represents the "first" flies at the "root" of the fly evolutionary tree. Another assumption involves the decision about what to do with multiple fly families that share traits that they shouldn't share if they evolved from ancestral lineages that did not have those traits.

One manual that scientists refer to when building evolutionary trees stated, "When conflicts with that assumption occur (and they often do), they are explained by 'reversal,' 'convergence,' or 'parallelism'…. [These] are required as extra steps or hypotheses to explain the [conflicting age] data."2

Many prior evolutionary tree studies have amply demonstrated that the different "trees" that can be built from the same genetic and structural data are as numerous and varied as the investigators who construct them. Each scientist typically publishes a tree that looks different from the last one. Despite the use of scientific-sounding words like "phylogenomics"—which attempts to reconstruct the supposed evolutionary history of an organism using its gene sequence data— this constantly changing structure is a clear sign that the trees are subjective inventions that only masquerade as observable "science." The new fly tree shows no signs of breaking this mold.

The study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stated that "recent research has suggested that fly relationships have been obscured by multiple episodes of rapid diversification. We provide a phylogenomic estimate of fly relationships."3 In contrast, the periodic table of elements is short on "suggestions," is not "obscured" by episodes of unpredicted factors, and is not put together based on "estimated" relationships.

The periodic table of elements is also not a history chart, but a categorization of elements based on their testable properties. The NCSU press release constantly referred to the history of flies. But what scientific experiments could directly answer historical questions?

This diagram was clearly given the wrong nickname. And in all of the research conducted to fit fly data into a preconceived notion of fly evolution, the researchers have yet to find any data that challenge the concept that flies were created.

References

  1. Kulikowski, M. Fly Tree of Life Mapped, Adds Big Branch of Evolutionary Knowledge. North Carolina State University press release, March 14, 2011.
  2. Hall, B. 2007. Phylogenetic Trees Made Easy. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 78. Cited in Thomas, B. Rare Insect Evolved at the Wrong Time. ICR News. Posted on icr.org December 30, 2009, accessed March 15, 2011.
  3. Wiegmann, B. M. et al. Episodic radiations in the fly tree of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published online before print March 14, 2011.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on March 17, 2011.

The Latest
NEWS
Fossil Chromatin Looks Young
What are the odds that a buried animal would still have intact DNA after 125 million years? Researchers publishing in the journal Communications Biology...

NEWS
Inside October 2021 Acts & Facts
How is the Lord’s handiwork on display at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park? Does the universe look old? What can we learn about science and...

NEWS
Two-Volume Series: Restoring the Truth about Origins
The subject of origins continues to attract interest from the public and the scientific establishment. Understanding our origins informs us of who we are...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Floods Form Fossils Fast
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
A Battle for Hearts
Since the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History opened in fall of 2019, tens of thousands of people have walked through our doors. They...

APOLOGETICS
Eating Bugs Isn't Always So Simple
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves glory for why He made Earth’s diverse creatures, and He also deserves glory for the complicated details of how...

ACTS & FACTS
Does the Universe Look Old?
Since distant galaxies are billions of light-years away, some understandably assume that distant starlight must have taken billions of years to reach...

ACTS & FACTS
Hawaii Behind the Scenes
ICR Research Scientist Dr. Brian Thomas and ICR Video Producer Clint Loveness, with help from friends and family, recently shot footage in Maui, Hawaii,...

ACTS & FACTS
Mutation, Design, and Faith
Any alteration in a cell’s DNA sequence is a mutation. These changes can come from copying errors, exposure to chemicals or radiation, or from...

ACTS & FACTS
Another Function of 'Junk DNA' Discovered
For decades, evolutionists suggested that huge sections of our genome (about half) did not actively code for the production of proteins or polypeptides—and...