The Discovery Institute has a list of frivolous complaints about the PBS NOVA documentary, “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial”. Number 6 on their list is:
6. PBS wrongly claims that human chromosomal fusion evidence “confirm[s] … the common ancestry of humans and apes.”
PBS uses the evidence for fusion in human chromosome #2 as evidence for human / ape common ancestry. But in fact this fusion evidence represents an event that is specific to the human line, and it does not tell us whether the human line leads back to a human / ape common ancestor. The fusion event might have happened in the very recent past in a human population that has no relationship to apes whatsoever. This evidence is equally consistent with both human descent from an ape-like ancestor, or a completely separate design of the human species, and therefore does not offer decisive information regarding whether humans share a common ancestor with apes.
They completely miss the point of the chromosome fusion evidence, we think intentionally, with the intent of deceiving their readers. The extra chromosome markers (centromeres and telomeres), which indicate that two chromosomes have fused in humans, were predicted by geneticists. Great apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes, humans have 23 pairs. A prediction was made decades ago that at some point in our genetic history two of our chromosomes fused, giving us one pair fewer than apes.
Now, creationists frequently proclaim that all mutations are deleterious or that beneficial mutations are too rare to be useful in evolution. What are the effects of a fusion? The fusion of chromosomes doesn’t alter the bases in DNA strands, but it can often have the most deleterious effects on human development. Chromosome fusions can alter the interactions of genes. And there are a host of human birth defects causes by such fusions.
But according to intelligent design “theory” a drastic change like a chromosome fusion would have to be designed. And again, it would have to be perfect as well as irreducibly complex. But, in this case it looks like the designer forget to remove the superfluous markers, the extra telomeres and centromeres on our chromosome #2. Sloppy work, Mr. Designer, your work looks so random.
The real significance of the fusion evidence is that geneticists predicted it using evolution theory. And surprise, they found exactly what the process of evolution historically would have required, if humans and modern apes share a common ancestor. Either that or the Designer is really predictable. Or maybe scientists have ESP and can read his mind. In the end, the fusion and it’s discovery by geneticists only makes sense in the light of evolution.