Function, the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE
|February 22, 2013||Posted by andyjones under 'Junk DNA', Darwinism, Genomics|
There is no better title for this post than the very title some Darwinists chose for themselves:
Darwinists are still struggling to come to terms with the idea, from the ENCODE project, that 80% of the genome is functional. Whatever Dawkins now says, according to their model, only about 10% should be subject to natural selection, leaving 70% unexplained. This cannot be!
Apparently, ENCODE are to be criticised for using an ‘evolution-free’ definition of function. Yep, you heard that right. You thought that function was function was function, but oh no, you must use a evolution-y definition or you will not get the ‘correct’ evolution-y answer. It seems awfully like you need to presuppose Darwinism or you will not find Darwinism. Can that be right?
The excuse for this is some interesting Darwinian philosophy (or do I mean sophistry? – make up your mind below): the authors believe that function means nothing (is purely subjective) unless it is selected for. For example, the heart causes the pericardium (the membrane around the heart) to not collapse by filling space, so we could call that a function, but it is selected for pumping blood.
Well, yes, that’s an interesting point, and that’s where it ends for a Darwinist because Darwinists resist the possibility of purpose. But it is nonsense to an engineer. An engineer would not make the mistake of seeing the pericardium as more important than the heart. A broken watch may still contain many functional components even if overall it does nothing. A TV switched off is still a TV even if it never functions. Is that subjective?
It depends what you mean by subjective. If your only ultimate reference frame is physics (and biology as a derivative of physics), then of course all intelligent agents are in fact subjective! For much of what we know, never mind religion and ethics, even in something solid like the definition of a motor, there is no way of translating it into physical equations (you could describe an instance of a motor but that would not capture all possible motors or what ‘motorness’ is – physics makes motors work but it doesn’t know what they are). However, what if all intelligent agents shared that ‘subjective’ knowledge? Then it isn’t really subjective anymore is it? At very least, a being that knows what a motor is, or that a bacterial flagellum is a motor, is more intelligent than one that does not. When we say there is an intelligence out there, we mean there must be a being like us in this respect. A being who wouldn’t be so stupid as to think that the heart was put in to hold up the pericardium. We might not be able to explain why that is stupid, but that doesn’t stop it from being objectively stupid. See my point? Darwinians effectively deny intelligence full stop, writing it off as subjectivity.
Amongst other things the ENCODE authors are lambasted for not distinguishing between ‘Junk DNA’ and ‘Garbage DNA’. No seriously, ‘junk’ now means stuff that is functional, but not used very often, but could be used, like stuff in your attic is ‘junk’. It is different from ‘garbage’, which is the stuff that you would put straight in the bin. ‘junk’ is now a rather misleading word for ‘functional’. So our genome is full of ‘junk’ that is useful and functional, but to a Darwinian it does not count until it starts getting used so that natural selection can get the credit. How convenient! The possibility of design is sidestepped by careful choice of language. Welcome to 1984! A better word might be ‘archived’ rather than ‘junk’.
This article tells us a lot about what is wrong with the whole project. The way to find out if the genome is functional or not, is to look directly for actual function. No presuppositions, just objectivity. But they criticise the attempts of ENCODE to do that. Instead these guys are focussing on searching for indirect evidence of natural selection, with models replete with assumptions and complexities, all presupposing that Darwinism is true. If the Darwinist approach was followed (thankfully many scientists ignore it!) the simple question “functional or not?” could potentially get buried for decades more, under the continuing assumption that most is not. A few more valuable decades in which Darwinists tell us not to bother go looking for function, so slowing down scientific progress.
I, and many of us, hold to an ID worldview firstly and most securely because of what we know about prebiotic chemistry and thus the origin of the first life form. Based on that, because I know there has been a designer involved, I think probably a lot of ‘junk’ will turn out to be ‘brought down from the attic’ at various stages of an organisms life, especially in the developing stages. Time will tell.
Scientific means finding out what is actually there. ENCODE are to be praised for doing that. Darwinism has always been about telling creation myths from the point of view of naturalism (roughly, physics only), and shoehorning every fact into the story. ENCODE are now receiving scorn because they did not wait for the Darwinian imprimatur. Intelligent Design people and creationists (in fact everyone who is not a Darwinist) should take courage from this, jump in and start driving forward ordinary mainstream science, but just make sure they sidestep the attempts to sign them up to that cult.