ChatGPT Debate Pt8: Blind Cavefish
In Part 7 of my debate with ChatGPT, the Artificial Intelligence chatbot, the bot confessed that natural selection cannot account for the origin of new genetic information, but attempted to argue that there are other processes that do generate new genetic information that would be required for molecules-to-man evolution. I challenged the bot’s specific example regarding bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Below is Part 8 of 8 of my debate with ChatGPT, where the bot repeats similar evolutionary arguments, and attempts to use the blind cavefish as an example of observed evolution-in-action.
You are correct that bacterial resistance to antibiotics can arise from a loss of genetic information. In some cases, mutations can lead to the loss or inactivation of genes that are targeted by antibiotics, allowing the bacteria to survive and reproduce in the presence of the antibiotic. However, it's important to note that there are also cases where bacterial resistance arises through the acquisition of new genetic information, such as the acquisition of plasmids carrying antibiotic resistance genes through horizontal gene transfer. Additionally, while it's true that some mutations can lead to the loss of gene function, it's also possible for mutations to lead to the acquisition of new functions or the modification of existing functions, which can contribute to the evolution of novel traits.
Horizontal gene transfer depends on the transfer of existing genes / genetic information, so it's not really an acquisition of new genetic information. Do you have any observable examples of mutations leading to novel traits such as eyesight?
There are many observable examples of mutations leading to novel traits, including eyesight. For example, the evolution of eyesight in animals is thought to have occurred through a process called "gene duplication and divergence". This process involves a mutation that causes a gene to be duplicated in the genome, followed by mutations in one of the copies that alter its function and allow it to take on a new role in the development of an eye.
One example of this process in action is the evolution of eyesight in flatworms. Flatworms are a group of animals that are mostly small and simple, but some species have evolved complex eyes with multiple lenses that can detect the direction of light. Researchers have identified the genes that are responsible for the development of these eyes, and have found that they evolved through gene duplication and divergence.
Another example is the evolution of eyesight in cavefish. Some species of cavefish have evolved to live in completely dark environments, and have lost their eyesight as a result. However, other species of cavefish have evolved to maintain their eyesight, and researchers have identified the genetic changes that underlie this adaptation. These changes include mutations that affect the development of the eyes, such as alterations in the expression of certain genes.
So, while it may not be a direct acquisition of entirely new genetic information, mutations can lead to the development of novel traits such as eyesight through processes such as gene duplication and divergence.
Those are not observable examples [of eyesight evolution]. You confirmed to me earlier that it is not possible to provide an observable example of an originally blind organism evolving eyesight.
That is correct, I did confirm earlier that I could not provide an observable example of an originally blind organism evolving eyesight. However, it is important to note that just because we may not have observed something directly does not mean we cannot infer or make scientific conclusions based on evidence and observations we do have. For example, the fossil record provides evidence of the evolution of eyesight in various organisms over time. Additionally, studies of the genetics and development of eyes in living organisms also provide evidence for the evolutionary origins of this trait. While we may not have a direct observation of an originally blind organism evolving eyesight, we can still draw scientific conclusions based on the available evidence.
I let the discussion end at this point, because ChatGPT can go on “forever” per se and never quit, unlike an actual human. With that said, let’s unpack a few things from this conversation.
First, the bot brought up horizontal gene transfer and gene duplication again, which is a topic that I’ve addressed with humanists in a previous debate, as referenced in my previous blog post. Here’s the link again to Overwhelming Evidence Part 3.
Secondly, the bot’s claims about flatworm eye evolution are not observable, but are just evolutionary storytelling. Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell of Answers in Genesis responds to this type of argument when responding to an article from National Geographic: https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/eyes/diversity-of-eyes-in-nature-evolution/. In fact, given that ChatGPT pulls from online data available up until 2021, it’s quite possible that the bot used the same National Geographic article when formulating its response.
Dr. Mitchell also responds to National Geographic’s similar claims regarding the blind cavefish (additional evidence consistent with the possibility that this is where the bot got its information). The bot’s claim about blind cavefish made me smile in amusement for two reasons:
(1) The blind cavefish is an example of *loss* of genetic information! The fish *lost* its eyeballs! We never observed the fish *gain* eyeballs for the first time!
(2) The other species of cavefish did not “evolve” to maintain their eyesight, they just simply maintained their eyesight! That doesn’t require evolution!
The blind cavefish is actually one of my go-to examples when it comes to observable evidence of mutational loss of genetic information and functionality, as I’ve previously brought up to evolutionists in Overwhelming Evidence Part 2. The Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky also has an exhibit regarding blind cavefish...be sure to check that out next time you visit!
Lastly, the bot corrected itself in its final response when saying “That is correct, I did confirm earlier that I could not provide an observable example of an originally blind organism evolving eyesight.” However, the bot claims that studies of genetics in living organisms supposedly helps us understand eye evolution, yet such evolutionary studies have to presuppose evolution in the first place. Also, the bot references the fossil record. However, such inferences or "scientific conclusions" (to use the bot’s term) of the fossil record depend on our presuppositions: do we start with God’s Word or man’s word? I address claims about evolution and the fossil record in other debates, such as this one: Fossils and Genetics: Evidence for Evolution?