Study casts doubt on creationism

The St Bernard dog – named after the 11th century priest Bernard of Menthon – may have ironically challenged the theory of creationism, say scientists.

Biologists at The University of Manchester say that changes to the shape of the breed’s head over the years can only be explained through evolution and natural selection.

The team, led by Dr Chris Klingenberg in the Faculty of Life Sciences, examined the skulls of 47 St Bernards spanning 120 years, from modern examples to those of dogs dating back to the time when the breed standard was first defined.

“We discovered that features stipulated in the breed standard of the St Bernard became more exaggerated over time as breeders selected dogs that had the desired physical attributes,” said Dr Klingenberg.

“In effect they have applied selection to move the evolutionary process a considerable way forward, providing a unique opportunity to observe sustained evolutionary change under known selective pressures.”

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences tomorrow (Wednesday), are based on studies of St Bernard skulls donated by Swiss breeders to the Natural History Museum in Berne.

Compared to their ancestors, modern St Bernards have broader skulls, while the angle between the nose and the forehead is steeper in modern dogs and they have also developed a more pronounced ridge above the eyes.

“These changes are exactly in those features described as desirable in the breed standards. They are clearly not due to other factors such as general growth and they provide the animal with no physical advantage, so we can be confident that they have evolved purely through the selective considerations of breeders.

“Creationism is the belief that all living organisms were created according to Genesis in six days by ‘intelligent design’ and rejects the scientific theories of natural selection and evolution.

“But this research once again demonstrates how selection – whether natural or, in this case, artificially influenced by man – is the fundamental driving force behind the evolution of life on the planet.”

Source: University of Manchester

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Oct 24, 2007
I'm really amazed at the error that is stated in a scientific article such as this -- creationism does NOT dispute natural selection -- that is a proven fact and can be proven by any number of historical and scientific experiments -- what creationism says is proven by this article -- God created all species on the planet and those species evolve, but remain the same species. You will notice that this article doesn't suggest that the st bernards became another species -- they are still st bernards, they just look different and have traits that were selected by breeders. In fact Charles Darwin never suggested that all life on earth came from the primordial soup -- his theory of evolution was natural selection -- that within a species, the strongest or best suited for the environment will be the most prolific the therefore their traits are selected.

Oct 24, 2007
Perhaps Dr. Klingenberg would like to explain to us all how a beaver naturally evolved into a Platypus...

Oct 24, 2007
Why isn't it possible that god set the big bang off and life evolved according to science's explanation of how things happened? 7 days could equal several million billion years to an infinite being. So, why couldn't an infinite being with infinite power and infinite knowledge set into motion the mechanisms which lead, through evolution, from a single celled organism to Adam & Eve? That would also explain Enoch & Lilith.

Oct 24, 2007
It is possible that God could have created the world with a big bang and set in motion natural laws to evolve, BUT that isn't what the Bible says -- the bible (which is the only basis for creationism) claims that God created all the species -- even distinguishing between fishes, birds and land animals -- even plants and such which were not planted but were created with apparent age since trees that were only days old were bearing fruit. Evolution and Science cannot answer there own rules and laws about matter and energy, but creation has an answer - God.

Oct 24, 2007
I must say that the bible does not unallow evolution.

The story of creation itself plays out much like a story, an explanation for the creation and appearance of the creatures seen on the earth now. Almost every world religion has its own creation story, not just Christianity!

Before the story of the creation as told in the Bible was ever penned down, it was probably orally told for generations, making it a story, a figurative story used to help explain the existance of life as seen by the storyteller.

As the Bible itself was written by human hands, spiritual inspiration nonwithstanding, it is still a HUMAN account of the creation of the earth. It is meant as just that--a story of explanation to convey the power and intelligence of a divine creator.

Religion is contextual. These stories were written in the context of the time. Religion is fluid, not static! Its teachings an interpretations change from generation to generation, culture to culture.

What was written down hundreds of years ago fit with the context of the time, but times have changed. I am in no way trying to debase the teachings of the Bible, but I am merely trying to point out that its meaning must be searched for through a contextual filter.

Try to read and iterpret it and glean its meaning in a manner than the original author (storyteller) would be trying to convey to his or her original audience. Then realize that this particular interpretation is synonymous for that culture and that time period, one that has since drastically changed.

I am not trying to imply that the fundamental points in the Bible may not have changed. Merely try to realize that our culture should realize that their implications are subject to the lense of the current culture and are therefore fluid, not static.

I.E. Please be open-minded when it comes to interpretations of religious texts, realizing that they were written in a manner tailored for the audience of the time. A static religious doctrine cannot work with a fluid culture. The religous tennats should have a fluid interpretation in order to be relevant to a fluid culture.

Oct 24, 2007
So dog breeding works, and creationism can be studied.
very interesting

Oct 24, 2007
The fundamental issue is how do we determine what is true.

Either you agree with the scientific model for establishing truth or you are satisfied with the belief model.

The scientific model employs logic and observation to validate its claims.

The belief model employs neither logic nor observation and states no validation of its claims are necessary; quite the contrary. The sole justification for its claims is the proclomations of the believer usually in the form of some emotional context (i.e. "I believe God exists because I feel His presence.").

My money is on Science for determining what is true. One only has to look at the success of Science based fields such as electronics, medicine, astronomy, and chemistry to see the success of the scientific process. Yet with Biology the religious community will ignore its claims even though the same methods are employed. Astonishing.

Finally, there is definitely a contradiction between Evolution and Creationism just as there is a contradiction between Science and Belief. The former tests for truth and the latter just feels true.

Oct 24, 2007
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Oct 24, 2007
Evolution is change, not creation. So the real question is how did the thing that started changing ever come into existence in the first place? Evolution cannot answer this question, and neither can science.

Oct 24, 2007
Maybe there isn't a beginning or end.

Oct 24, 2007
Misstating a theory is not the same as refuting the theory.

"Creationism is the belief that all living organisms were created according to Genesis in six days by 'intelligent design' and rejects the scientific theories of natural selection and evolution."

No it isn't! No it doesn't!

The St Bernard evolved from the primordial ooze due to selective breeding.

I don't think so.

Oct 24, 2007
Posted by Gammakozy:
"So the real question is how did the thing that started changing ever come into existence in the first place? Evolution cannot answer this question, and neither can science."

Evolution is not here to explain the start, only what happened after. And there was once a time science could not explain a great many things.

Can science unreservedly explain existence? No.

But I'd put my faith in science eventually having the explanation any day over the explanation being found in a superstitious, superfluous book of fairy tales that only has the tenuous proof of "It's true because I was told it was" or "It's true because I believe it is".

Oct 25, 2007
Look, God, Allah, Buddah, .. the Bible, the Koran, etc -- it's all made up by humans at a time in their "evolutionary development" to explain the unexplainable, the things they couldn't understand and to make sense and reason of the everyday unfair qualities of life.

I say to the creationists out there, which one do you mean? The Christian God? The Hindu God? Allah? Amaterasu? Jupiter? Zeus? Ra? Which one are you saying created us as most have their own take on how the universe and earth was created, each have their own timeline and when it all came to be.

So cmon creationists, which one is right? And prove your agruments, because, us evolutionists can!

Oct 25, 2007
Most creationists I know do not argue at all with the concept of species CHANGE through evolution. Their only argument is with the concept of inter-species evolution ... the idea that one species can give rise to a totally different species through evolutionary mechanisms. There they balk.

Some of their arguments are specious, to be sure, but some should be carefully studied and need to be addressed in a serious and scientific manner by those who would hold to the scientific truth of inter-species evolution.

Oct 25, 2007
To isaw: The fact that creationists do not agree, in itself, does not make the idea wrong. The different variations of evolution are numerous.
About the article itself: The Genesis account says that "they were created according to their kind" this allows for a lot of "evolution" to take place. A St. Bernard is still a canine--slope- or steep-headed.

Oct 26, 2007
I see what you're saying, but to be honest - rubbish. The idea that that text from the bible, which was collated only within the last 1000 years, has any shred of validity compared to empirical, testable, accountable and provable science is ridiculous.

Science has shown and disproved the genesis notions put forth by the bible. The timelines, the origination of man & woman, animals, plants, Noah and his crew, etc.

So, we came from Adam & Eve huh? About, what, 6000 years ago? Ok, we'll ignore the notion of Egypt, Babylon, Sumeria and any other ancient civilization pre 5000BC. Creationists argue that we all stemmed from those two people, only a few thousand years ago? Or are you picking & choosing which "bits" of the bible you want to support?

Sorry, Bible, religion, creationists, scientology, rubbish...

Oct 26, 2007
To Code Monkey:
So you would rather put your "faith" in science? VERY INTERESTING. I thought that science was about facts not about "faith". You just destroyed your argument but are too blinded by prejudice to even realize it. Somehow I doubt that you will ever see the scientific answer to the question of existence in your lifetime. And afterwards will be too late to confirm your "faith". How sad.

Oct 26, 2007
The willful misrepresentation of the Creationist position in this article shows how low the evolutionist crowd will go. Creationists believe in change over time. The question is whether NEW information in the DNA has been established. The shape of a dogs head is hardly NEW info. Since many Creationists believe man started as 1 man and 1 woman, of course there were changes to their offspring when it comes to shape of noses, ears, skulls, chins, shoulders, height, etc.

This article is the weakest argument I have ever read yet has the loudest chest thumping title imaginable.

Oct 26, 2007
One of the essential characteristics of a %u201Ctheory%u201D is that it must generate specific predictions about future observations. This allows the theory to be tested.

What predictions does the so called %u201CTheory%u201D of Evolution make? That change happens and always has? WOW!!! What a revelation. Reminds me of %u201CThe poor shall always be with you%u201D. Let%u2019s call that the %u201CTheory of Socialism%u201D.

Oct 29, 2007
Pretty sad article. Documenting micro evolution and trying to use it as an example of how creationism is flawed. As if Creationists dont believe in micro evolution (which of course we do). Ironically the many different dog breeds that have come about since man has been manipulating their breeding, shows how flawed the idea of Macro evolution is. From the timber wolf to the Chihuahua we see the drastic physical differences that can happen within one kind of animal, yet no matter how drastic those changes we see that dogs stubbornly keep producing dogs, instead of some new species. This is a clear example of what is know as a "Straw man" argument. But its an even clearer example of how dishonest many evolutionist can be.

Oct 29, 2007
Is it my imagination? or is it that pretty well every bloody conflict that has happened or is happening has something to do with someones deity? If god created us, why is he so determined to have us kill each other in his name? Maybe we should change the name from creationism to destructionism.

Oct 30, 2007
Is it my imagination? or is it that pretty well every bloody conflict that has happened or is happening has something to do with someones deity?

No, It's your imagination.

Jun 02, 2009
Maybe there isn't a beginning or end.

Merak, that is true for God, but cannot be true for the universe. The notion that the universe could go through repeated "Big Bangs" is incompatible with the laws of physics. Read "The Fabric of the Cosmos" if you are interested in finding out why this is so.

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