What Is Evolution?
Are Humans Evolving?
Essays & Articles
Central Dogma of Molecular Biology
How Many Genes Do We Have?
Random Genetic Drift
Evolution and Abiogenesis
Dmitri Kouznetsov is No Scientist
v2.0 ©2006 Laurence A. Moran
Science v. Religion
... it's author can be accused of dishonesty only on the
grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself.
reationists often look for scientific authorities to bolster their case against evolution. Many of these so-called scientists have been discredited and they no longer appear in Creationist literature. For example, a Soviet creationist lecturer named Dr. Kouznetsov used to be widely quoted.
Interviewer: "That's interesting, because most people in the West believe that creationists
are just trying to somehow make science fit the Bible because they're Christians."
I asked several Russian and Eastern European colleagues about this. It is not common for intellectuals to become creationists in Russia. They are just as smart as intellectuals in the rest of the world. Kouznetsov claims that it is "extremely common" for intellectuals to become creationists. This seems to be a flat out lie.
The interview continues,
Interviewer: "Evolutionists believe that their imaginary one-celled first ancestor has turned
into fish and palm trees, and into frogs which then turn into princes. They know that this
means a lot of genetic information has to be added to living things over time, and they teach
that inherited mistakes called mutations can add these new useful genes. We don't see that,
I'll ignore the ignorant characterization of evolution and concentrate on the bizarre idea that new genes are not possible and would not be expressed.
In my lab we used to routinely modify genes and make new proteins. Furthermore we put mouse genes in bacteria and yeast, bacterial genes in yeast, and yeast genes in bacteria in order to make foreign proteins. In other words these new genes from different organisms are expressed. These are pretty drastic changes to DNA—I wonder why Dr. Kouznetsov doesn't mention experiments like these? Furthermore there are all kinds of examples of modified genes which make modified proteins. The idea that such mutations are forbidden or inhibited at the level of translation is quite silly. Incidently the wording of this paragraph indicates that Kouznetsov is on unfamiliar ground. In other words he does not know what he is talking about. No expert would make the mistake of referring to "translation" of a "gene".
Every population contains considerable variation at the level of the gene. For many genes there are multiple alleles and each one makes a slightly different protein. This is why one sees morphological variation within populations (eg. Homo sapiens), and this is the raw material of evolution. If Kouznetsov knew anything about biochemistry, genetics or evolution he would recognize that his statement is ridiculous because his postulated mechanism would also suppress such variation.
I have no idea what kind of powerful cytoplasmic suppressors Dr. Kouznetsov could be referring to. It is probably safe to assume that these are figments of an overactive creationist mind. If such substances existed I would know about them.
More from the interview,
Interviewer: "Dr Kouznetsov, you once talked about the 'subjectivity' of evolutionary theory.
Could you give an example?"
Creatine kinase (not creatinine kinase) is an enzyme that can be found in many organisms. In most vertebrates it is abundant in muscle cells where it serves to replace energy molecules used up during muscle activity. A different but related enzyme is found in nerve cells which have a high ATP turnover. Vertebrates also have a mitochondrial creatine kinase. The three different proteins are encoded by three different genes that are found at different locations in the genomes of vertebrates. The data indicates that there were two gene duplications in vertebrate ancestors and this gave rise to three different genes which have evolved independently from that point on. This is a common pattern in the evolution of complex organisms; namely that additional features are formed by copying and modifying existing genes. Most of you are probably aware of the evolution of hemoglobin genes which is another example of the same phenomenon.
I searched the nucleic acid sequence databases for all creatine kinase sequences and found 74 examples that have been published in the past thirty years. There are no published sequences for either elephant or houseflies! I also searched the protein databases and found 22 more sequences, again there is no record of an elephant or housefly sequence ever being published. So I went to the primary literature on creatine kinase sequences but there are no references to elephants or houseflies in the papers that I examined. Most of the readers of talk.origins will realize that it is very unusual to have molecular data on either elephants or houseflies. They are not popular lab species and there is no particular reason why anyone would clone their genes. Anyone familiar with evolution or biochemistry would recognize that these are highly unusual examples. On the other hand, someone who was quite ignorant of the field...
There was an International Congress of Biochemistry in Perth, Australia in the 1980's. None of my colleagues who attended that meeting recall hearing a talk such as the one that Kouznetsov describes. I conclude that this particular creationist is making up a story in order to suggest that evolutionary biologists are as subjective as the average creationist.
The Creationist who brought this to my attention on the talk.origins newsgroup said,
There was more to the interview but that's about all I thought you'd find interesting.
Not only did I share this interview with you because I thought it was interesting, but some
of you think that creationists can't possibly be decent scientists and this interview offers
an opposing viewpoint to such a belief. Also, the FAQ on creationists credentials comes
across in a negative tone and I'm tempted to put together a positive FAQ on creationist
scientists with degrees and backgrounds that simply can't be overlooked.
I'd like to thank this Creationist for posting an interesting interview. However, I regret to inform him that it only confirms what I already knew, Creationists can't be decent (or honest) scientists.
He has certainly convinced me that he is going to believe what he wants to believe
in spite of the facts. Kouznetsov obviously falls into the same catagory, which
means that he is definitely not a scientist. I also the point that everyone is biased
to some extent but there is no doubt in my mind that some biases are more ridiculous than