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Protein chemist Doug Axe nails self-image problem in biology

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The “hunger to be associated with the smart people”:

You really cannot understand debates about evolution, and other things, without appreciating the ego — the male ego in particular, you could argue — that is involved.

David Klinghoffer, “Douglas Axe: The Sway of Self-Image in Evolutionary Debates” at Evolution News and Science Today:

Did Darwin make it intellectually fulfilling to be an egotist?

23 Replies to “Protein chemist Doug Axe nails self-image problem in biology

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    So, essentially, Axe is resorting to just another conspiracy theory to explain the predominance of the theory of evolution and the failure of intelligent design to gain traction in academic circles.

    As for the public health response to the pandemic, yes, it is reasonable to try and perform some sort of cost/benefit analysis comparing the number of lives saved against the economic burden of the measures employed to save them.

    The other side of that coin is that those who argue that the cost in lives is a price worth paying to restore economic growth will not be putting their own lives on the line to achieve it. They will be taking all possible precautions and drawing on the best medical support money can buy while requiring their employees – who need the money – to risk their lives and those of their families and friends in the noble cause of preserving the owners and shareholders profits. Again, Axe explains skepticism about these clearly philanthropic endeavors on a conspiracy, a cabal of “experts” (expertise for these people is always evil – unless its your own) who have taken control of ‘”the microphone”, oblivious to the fact he is speaking into a microphone and doing exactly what he said the cabal was preventing. No matter, there are books to be sold.

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    Did Darwin make it intellectually fulfilling to be an egotist?

    Anyone who knows their history of science will be well aware that Linneus and Newton were both well ahead of Darwin.

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    Ego and arrogance are only found in people. Arrogance cannot be explained through nature, since arrogance does not exist in nature.

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    Bob, you clearly don’t live with parrots.

  5. 5
    Bob O'H says:

    Hm, or cats.

  6. 6
    BobRyan says:

    I believe your points are done out of humor, but just in case your being, serious and believe parrots and cats to be arrogant, I will answer as if you are. Parrots, much like dogs, learn certain behaviors will be rewarded. Cat’s have smaller brains than dogs. As a result, they learn very little beyond what is instinctual to them. Animals have no human traits. Some people perceive this to be the case, but that is humanizing the animal in question. Humans, among our many traits, include the capacity for murder. Animals cannot commit an act of murder.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    I like the title of Dr. Axe’s talk,, “How Four-Year-Olds Grasp (Intelligent) Design Better Than Most Biology Professors”

    Perhaps it would be much more productive to have a four year old teach Jerry Coyne’s class 🙂

    Despite what atheists may adamantly claim to the contrary, ‘seeing’ Intelligent Design is wired into each and everyone of us,

    Children are born believers in God, academic claims – 24 Nov 2008
    Excerpt: “Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....laims.html

    Out of the mouths of babes – Do children believe (in God) because they’re told to by adults? The evidence suggests otherwise – Justin Barrett – 2008
    Excerpt: • Children tend to see natural objects as designed or purposeful in ways that go beyond what their parents teach, as Deborah Kelemen has demonstrated. Rivers exist so that we can go fishing on them, and birds are here to look pretty.
    • Children doubt that impersonal processes can create order or purpose. Studies with children show that they expect that someone not something is behind natural order. No wonder that Margaret Evans found that children younger than 10 favoured creationist accounts of the origins of animals over evolutionary accounts even when their parents and teachers endorsed evolution. Authorities’ testimony didn’t carry enough weight to over-ride a natural tendency.
    • Children know humans are not behind the order so the idea of a creating god (or gods) makes sense to them. Children just need adults to specify which one.
    • Experimental evidence, including cross-cultural studies, suggests that three-year-olds attribute super, god-like qualities to lots of different beings. Super-power, super-knowledge and super-perception seem to be default assumptions. Children then have to learn that mother is fallible, and dad is not all powerful, and that people will die. So children may be particularly receptive to the idea of a super creator-god. It fits their predilections.
    • Recent research by Paul Bloom, Jesse Bering, and Emma Cohen suggests that children may also be predisposed to believe in a soul that persists beyond death.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....god-belief

    No matter how much atheists may deny it, studies have now established that the inference to Intelligent Design is a ‘knee jerk’ inference that is built into everyone, atheists especially included, and that atheists have to mentally work ‘suppressing’ their very own “knee jerk” design inference!

    Is Atheism a Delusion?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Richard Dawkins take heed: Even atheists instinctively believe in a creator says study – Mary Papenfuss – June 12, 2015
    Excerpt: Three studies at Boston University found that even among atheists, the “knee jerk” reaction to natural phenomenon is the belief that they’re purposefully designed by some intelligence, according to a report on the research in Cognition entitled the “Divided Mind of a disbeliever.”
    The findings “suggest that there is a deeply rooted natural tendency to view nature as designed,” writes a research team led by Elisa Järnefelt of Newman University. They also provide evidence that, in the researchers’ words, “religious non-belief is cognitively effortful.”
    Researchers attempted to plug into the automatic or “default” human brain by showing subjects images of natural landscapes and things made by human beings, then requiring lightning-fast responses to the question on whether “any being purposefully made the thing in the picture,” notes Pacific-Standard.
    “Religious participants’ baseline tendency to endorse nature as purposefully created was higher” than that of atheists, the study found. But non-religious participants “increasingly defaulted to understanding natural phenomena as purposefully made” when “they did not have time to censor their thinking,” wrote the researchers.
    The results suggest that “the tendency to construe both living and non-living nature as intentionally made derives from automatic cognitive processes, not just practised explicit beliefs,” the report concluded.
    The results were similar even among subjects from Finland, where atheism is not a controversial issue as it can be in the US.
    “Design-based intuitions run deep,” the researchers conclude, “persisting even in those with no explicit religious commitment and, indeed, even among those with an active aversion to them.”
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/richa.....dy-1505712

    It is not that Atheists do not see purpose and/or Design in nature and biology, it is that Atheists, for whatever severely misguided reason, (i.e. ego, arrogance, and/or a ‘Cosmic Authority problem’ as Thomas Nagel termed it), ,,,

    “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.” 1
    – Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997. Dr Nagel (1937– ) is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.

    ,,, for whatever severely misguided reason, Atheists, as studies now prove, live in denial of the purpose and/or Intelligent Design that they themselves are intuitively seeing in nature.

    Here are two semi-famous examples of leading Atheists themselves irrationally denying the design that they are seeing in biology,

    “Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.”
    – Richard Dawkins – “The Blind Watchmaker” – 1986 – page 1

    “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
    – Francis Crick – What Mad Pursuit

    No matter how much atheists may deny the design that they themselves are seeing, atheists simply have no evidence that the design that they themselves are seeing can possibly be the result of unguided Darwinian processes.

    Right of Reply: Our Response to Jerry Coyne – September 29, 2019
    by Günter Bechly, Brian Miller and David Berlinski
    Excerpt: David Gelernter observed that amino acid sequences that correspond to functional proteins are remarkably rare among the “space” of all possible combinations of amino acid sequences of a given length. Protein scientists call this set of all possible amino acid sequences or combinations “amino acid sequence space” or “combinatorial sequence space.” Gelernter made reference to this concept in his review of Meyer and Berlinski’s books. He also referenced the careful experimental work by Douglas Axe who used a technique known as site-directed mutagenesis to assess the rarity of protein folds in sequence space while he was working at Cambridge University from 1990-2003. Axe showed that the ratio of sequences in sequence space that will produce protein folds to sequences that won’t is prohibitively and vanishingly small. Indeed, in an authoritative paper published in the Journal of Molecular Biology Axe estimated that ratio at 1 in 10^74. From that information about the rarity of protein folds in sequence space, Gelernter—like Axe, Meyer and Berlinski—has drawn the rational conclusion: finding a novel protein fold by a random search is implausible in the extreme.
    Not so, Coyne argued. Proteins do not evolve from random sequences. They evolve by means of gene duplication. By starting from an established protein structure, protein evolution had a head start.
    This is not an irrational position, but it is anachronistic.
    Indeed, Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak has shown that random searches in sequence space that start from known functional sequences are no more likely to enter regions in sequence space with new protein folds than searches that start from random sequences. The reason for this is clear: random searches are overwhelmingly more likely to go off into a non-folding, non-functional abyss than they are to find a novel protein fold. Why? Because such novel folds are so extraordinarily rare in sequence space. Moreover, as Meyer explained in Darwin’s Doubt, as mutations accumulate in functional sequences, they will inevitably destroy function long before they stumble across a new protein fold. Again, this follows from the extreme rarity (as well as the isolation) of protein folds in sequence space.
    Recent work by Weizmann Institute protein scientist Dan Tawfik has reinforced this conclusion. Tawfik’s work shows that as mutations to functional protein sequences accumulate, the folds of those proteins become progressively more thermodynamically and structurally unstable. Typically, 15 or fewer mutations will completely destroy the stability of known protein folds of average size. Yet, generating (or finding) a new protein fold requires far more amino acid sequence changes than that. Finally, calculations based on Tawfik’s work confirm and extend the applicability of Axe’s original measure of the rarity of protein folds. These calculations confirm that the measure of rarity that Axe determined for the protein he studied is actually representative of the rarity for large classes of other globular proteins. Not surprisingly, Dan Tawfik has described the origination of a truly novel protein or fold as “something like close to a miracle.” Tawfik is on Coyne’s side: He is mainstream.
    https://quillette.com/2019/09/29/right-of-reply-our-response-to-jerry-coyne/

    Without any empirical basis to deny the design that we all are intuitively seeing, it is simply insane, especially in biology, for atheists to try to deny the design that we all intuitively see.

    As Jay Homnick noted in 2005, “Once you allow the intellect to consider that an elaborate organism with trillions of microscopic interactive components can be an accident… you have essentially “lost your mind.”

    “It is not enough to say that design is a more likely scenario to explain a world full of well-designed things. It strikes me as urgent to insist that you not allow your mind to surrender the absolute clarity that all complex and magnificent things were made that way. Once you allow the intellect to consider that an elaborate organism with trillions of microscopic interactive components can be an accident… you have essentially “lost your mind.”
    – Jay Homnick, American Spectator – 2005

    Moreover, much like the teenager who rebels against his parents, and gets involved in drugs, the consequences for atheists in denying Intelligent Design, and therefore the consequences for rebelling against God in particular, are overwhelmingly detrimental for the atheist.

    As Professor Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, states, “The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally.”,,, “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life;,,”

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface

    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100

    In fact, “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.”

    Of snakebites and suicide – February 18, 2014
    RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....d-suicide/

    Atheism and suicide
    “Concerning suicide rates, this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations. According to the 2003 World Health Organization’s report on international male suicides rates (which compared 100 countries), of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism. It is interesting to note, however, that of the top remaining nine nations leading the world in male suicide rates, all are former Soviet/Communist nations, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. Of the bottom ten nations with the lowest male suicide rates, all are highly religious nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism.”[3]
    – per conservapedia

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    In fact, it is now found that “those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%” and “Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/02/can-attending-church-really-help-you-live-longer-study-says-yes/364375001/

    Study: Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”
    July 1, 2018
    Excerpt: Self-reported religious service attendance has been linked with longevity. However, previous work has largely relied on self-report data and volunteer samples. Here, mention of a religious affiliation in obituaries was analyzed as an alternative measure of religiosity. In two samples (N = 505 from Des Moines, IA, and N = 1,096 from 42 U.S. cities), the religiously affiliated lived 9.45 and 5.64 years longer, respectively, than the nonreligiously affiliated. Additionally, social integration and volunteerism partially mediated the religion–longevity relation.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/study-religiously-affiliated-people-lived-religiously-affiliated-lived-9-45-and-5-64-years-longer/

    Moreover, besides having severely detrimental effects on their personal level, the Atheist’s irrational denial of the Intelligent Design that we all intuitively see, also has severely detrimental effect on societies at large.

    In fact, Darwinian atheism lays at the foundation of all the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century,

    Hitler, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao – quotes – Foundational Darwinian influence in their ideology
    July 2020
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/michael-egnor-on-the-relationship-between-darwinism-and-totalitarianism/#comment-707831

    It would be hard to exaggerate the unimaginable horror visited upon the people who were stuck, (and are still stuck), in those atheistic hellholes,

    “169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]
    I BACKGROUND
    2. The New Concept of Democide [Definition of Democide]
    3. Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide
    II 128,168,000 VICTIMS: THE DEKA-MEGAMURDERERS
    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime
    III 19,178,000 VICTIMS: THE LESSER MEGA-MURDERERS
    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military
    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State
    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges
    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State
    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing
    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State
    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse
    IV 4,145,000 VICTIMS: SUSPECTED MEGAMURDERERS
    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea
    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico
    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia”

    This is, in reality, probably just a drop in the bucket. Who knows how many undocumented murders there were. It also doesn’t count all the millions of abortions from around the world.
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

    Many times, rebellious teenagers who rebel against their parents wishes and get involved in drugs, grow up after they have suffered from the consequences of their drug abuse, get into recovery (which can be a difficult process in its own right), and even admit that their parents were not so dumb after all, i.e. that their ‘uncool’ parents were right all along.

    Yet, after debating atheists here on UD for years, I am forced to wonder if Atheists here on UD will ever ‘suffer enough’ to admit that they are wrong, and finally ‘grow up’ and get over their juvenile rebellion against God?

    John 3:19
    This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Seversky, you are clueless as there isn’t any scientific theory of evolution. That is because no one knows how to test the claims of evolution by means of blind and mindless processes.

    People are dying from covid-19 due to nutritional deficiencies. The virus is easily fought off so we should get back to work and back to school

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    Anyone who knows their history of science will be well aware that Linneus and Newton were both well ahead of Darwin.

    In more ways than one. They understood science, Darwin didn’t. They weren’t dumb enough to posit that nature did it, Darwin was.

  11. 11
    Bob O'H says:

    BobRyan @ 6 –

    Humans, among our many traits, include the capacity for murder. Animals cannot commit an act of murder.

    Animals of the same species do kill each other – we have had to separate our lovebirds because we didn’t want them to do this. I’m not sure how their behaviour is different from murder, other than that there isn’t a written law proscribing it.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Animals kill other animals on a daily basis. And cats can learn quite a bit depending on the teacher.

  13. 13
    chuckdarwin says:

    “This is so simple a four year old child could do it. Quick, find me a four year old child, I can’t make heads or tails of it.” —Groucho Marx
    Ever notice how these guys always do their presentations in a church and never in a university lecture hall?

  14. 14
    Bob O'H says:

    IIRC Ben Stein used a university lecture hall in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Mind you, it was an empty university lecture hall.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    University lecture halls are too stuck up to allow an ID presentation. They are too afraid that their religion will be ruined.

  16. 16
    Querius says:

    Seversky @1,

    I just finished watching Douglas Axe’s video. It seems to me like your response had very little to do with his presentation.

    For example, what do your references have to do with Dr. Axe’s discussion of the nature of existence, materialism, and our scientific assumptions (which are broadly acknowledged)?

    Regarding your reference to “as for the public health response to the pandemic,” Dr. Axe simply used that as an example of how a few experts–not all-seem to dominate the narrative (“the microphone”) on the subject. For example, we all know how the experts disagreed on the efficacy of wearing masks in the beginning of the COVID-19 response. This isn’t a conspiracy, it’s simply a general observation of something well-known in scientific circles about how hard it is to be heard. There are demonstrations on YouTube about wearing masks and how easily droplets pass through them. But that’s not the theme of Dr. Axe’s presentation.

    Dr. Axe wasn’t denigrating experts. His main point was that they tend to be myopic on larger issues of existence and meaning, and your dismissive comments didn’t address any of Dr. Axe’s expertise on “alphabet soup” and protein sequences and folding as present in a ribosome.

    I think Dr. Axe’s primary point was our innate ability to distinguish between coincidence and design, and his observations about the concept of hierarchy in invention applied to the human organism was his primary point.

    You didn’t address any of this.

    -Q

  17. 17
    Sandy says:

    Seversky
    So, essentially, Axe is resorting to just another conspiracy theory to explain the predominance of the theory of evolution and the failure of intelligent design to gain traction in academic circles.

    To realize how clueless are biologist about “evolution” is the prediction of junk DNA.
    They really believed only 2-3% from DNA are useful for functioning ,the rest are the graveyard of milions of years of evolution. Who started this false ideea? Crick discoverer of DNA. 🙂
    Now scientists discovered that even 100% of DNA is only 0,1 % of all information required for all processes of life . Where could be that information stored?

  18. 18
    Querius says:

    Sandy,

    The idea of “junk” DNA was proposed by the American geneticist, Susumu Ohno in his 1972 paper So much “junk” DNA in our genome. It’s an interesting read and available online the last time I checked. His speculations on the utility of non-coding DNA were very reasonable given his evolutionary perspective.

    However, what the problem was (and still is) the presumption of randomness. Just because we didn’t know about the functions of non-coding DNA, non-coding DNA was assumed to be evolutionary junk, and many scientists still cling to that idea.

    But this presumption of junk isn’t new. For example, in the early to mid 1900s, there were dozens of “vestigial” organs, which were supposedly vestiges of evolution–evidence presented even at the Scopes Monkey trial. Among these “vestigial” organs included the appendix and ductless lands such as the thyroid. If you can find a dictionary from those times, you’ll see that the Royal Society speculated that the thyroid might have a function of helping project our voices upward through our mouth.

    Had there been a presumption of Intelligent Design in these and numerous other cases, scientific progress would not have been slowed down.

    -Q

  19. 19
    Sandy says:

    🙂 I knew only about a study from 1980 in “Nature ” (Crick, Orgel-Selfish DNA: the ultimate parasite )

  20. 20
    Seversky says:

    Have you heard of the “onion test”, originally proposed by T Ryan Gregory in a blog post?

    The onion test is a simple reality check for anyone who thinks they have come up with a universal function for junk DNA. Whatever your proposed function, ask yourself this question: Can I explain why an onion needs about five times more non-coding DNA for this function than a human?

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    Querius/18

    However, what the problem was (and still is) the presumption of randomness. Just because we didn’t know about the functions of non-coding DNA, non-coding DNA was assumed to be evolutionary junk, and many scientists still cling to that idea.

    Perhaps with good reason. This was originally posted by Larry Moran at his blog Sandwalk 4 July 2013

    Five Things You Should Know if You Want to Participate in the Junk DNA Debate

    Here are five things you should know if you want to engage in a legitimate scientific discussion about the amount of junk DNA in a genome.

    Genetic Load

    Every newborn human baby has about 100 mutations not found in either parent. If most of our genome contained functional sequence information, then this would be an intolerable genetic load. Only a small percentage of our genome can contain important sequence information suggesting strongly that most of our genome is junk.

    C-Value Paradox

    A comparison of genomes from closely related species shows that genome size can vary by a factor of ten or more. The only reasonable explanation is that most of the DNA in the larger genomes is junk.

    Modern Evolutionary Theory

    Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of population genetics. The modern understanding of evolution is perfectly consistent with the presence of large amounts of junk DNA in a genome.

    Pseudogenes and broken genes are junk

    More than half of our genomes consists of pseudogenes, including broken transposons and bits and pieces of transposons. A few may have secondarily acquired a function but, to a first approximation, broken genes are junk.

    Most of the genome is not conserved

    Most of the DNA sequences in large genomes is not conserved. These sequences diverge at a rate consistent with fixation of neutral alleles by random genetic drift. This strongly suggests that it does not have a function although one can’t rule out some unknown function that doesn’t depend on sequence.

    If you want to argue against junk DNA then you need to refute or rationalize all five of these observations.

    As for:

    Had there been a presumption of Intelligent Design in these and numerous other cases, scientific progress would not have been slowed down.

    Probably not, but the presumption of an undefined Intelligent Designer would have been of precious little help either.

  22. 22
    Querius says:

    Seversky,

    Genetic Load – Do you think this alarming rate of mutations will result in an evolved superhuman or eventual extinction? Support your assertion by including comparative rates of forming functional DNA by mutation.

    The fact that not all mutations are fatal doesn’t prove that they’re absorbed in useless junk. Susumu Ohno first speculated this possibility in his 1972 paper. It’s a good idea, but a bad premise based on ignorance of the functions being discovered from non-coding DNA.

    C-Value Paradox – The massive differences in genomes cannot be scientifically accounted for. I was going to write “explained by evolution,” but every potential outcome could be explained by evolutionary speculation. Again, this exposes the presumption of junk. I’ll even provide an example. What if the large-genome species actually spawned numerous smaller genome daughter species? You read it here first.

    Modern Evolutionary Theory – All unsupported assertions. One can easily assert that nothing in biology makes sense in light of modern population genetics. It was once thought that genomes could resolve evolutionary and taxonomic controversies, but they haven’t.

    Pseudogenes and broken genes are junk – A beautiful example of circular reasoning. Junk DNA is all junk because some DNA is presumed junk. Wow, brilliant.

    Most of the genome is not conserved – Because the genome is amazingly adaptable rather than fixed, this proves that most DNA is junk?

    The presumption of an unspecified Intelligent Designer would indeed have been instrumental in creating a brilliant, self-modifying genomic code and epigenetic switches crucial for the survival of organisms perhaps at the genus or family level of design.

    Here’s an interesting quote from a popular science magazine:

    Other research advances in the last decade also suggest “junk DNA” might just be misunderstood genetic material. Scientists have now linked various non-coding sequences to various biological processes and even human diseases. For instance, researchers believe these sequences are behind the development of the uterus and also of our opposable thumbs. A study published in Annals of Oncology last year showed that a non-coding DNA segment acts like a volume knob for gene expression, ultimately influencing the development of breast and prostate cancer. And a study in Nature Genetics this year found mutations outside of gene-coding regions can cause autism.

    Exploring the role of non-coding sequences is now an area of intense research. Increasing evidence suggests these noncoding sequences might help cancer defeat treatment, and experts now see them as promising tools for cancer diagnosis.

    Do you think the research behind the above is wrong?

    -Q

  23. 23
    ET says:

    Larry Moran is another coward who ignores the science and the facts. If Larry is right then somehow histone octamers just happened to evolve to spool up and organize all of the junk DNA.

    The genetic load argument is also nonsense. Just because the sequence isn’t important doesn’t mean the physical nature of the sequence isn’t functional.

    The onion test? Evos can’t even account for the existence of eukaryotes, so forget about onions. Has anyone ever heard of old operating systems that have many more lines of code than their newer counterparts?

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