'Junk DNA' Darwinism

Who else believed in the myth of junk DNA? Jerry Coyne, for example

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Why Evolution Is True

In 2009, University of Chicago geneticist Jerry A. Coyne compared predictions based on intelligent design with those based on Darwinian evolution. “If organisms were built from scratch by a designer,” he argued, they would not have imperfections.

“Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution; inf fact, it’s precisely what we expect from evolution.” According to Coyne, “when a trait is no longer used or becomes reduced, the genes that make it don’t instantly disappear from the genome: Evolution strops their action by inactivating them, not snipping them out of the DNA. From this we can make a prediction. We expect to find, in the genomes of many species, silenced, or ‘dead,’ genes: genes that once were useful but re no longer intact or expressed. In other words, there should be vestigial genes.” 

[ … ]

According to Coyne, “the evolutionary prediction that we’ll find pseudogenes has been fulfilled – amply. Virtually ever species harbors dead genes, many of them still active in its relatives. This implies that some of those genes were also active in a common ancestor, and were killed off in some descendants but not in others. Out of about thirty thousand genes, for example, we humans carry more than two thousand pseudogenes. Our genome, – and that of other species – are truly well populated graveyards of dead genes.”

(online)

Jonathan Wells, The Myth of Junk DNA, pp. 25-26

Jerry “Why Evolution Is True” Coyne here explicitly says that Darwinism beats design because so much DNA is junk. Does that mean that if most of it is not junk … oh, surely it can’t mean that!

Predictions based on Darwinism can’t be wrong; we simply haven’t read our Darwin correctly.

Sources note how Coyne phrases his argument to imply that the finding of any pseudogenes at all would vindicate Darwinism. Of course it wouldn’t, because in any designed system, some parts will not currently have a function.

In any event, that’s not what he says. He says there are lots of pseudogenes and that situation amply proves Darwinism.  Which should mean logically that few pseudogenes diminish support for Darwin. Oh wait, Darwinism is beyond discussion now.

Also: “Who believed in the myth of junk DNA? Michael Shermer for one.”

24 Replies to “Who else believed in the myth of junk DNA? Jerry Coyne, for example

  1. 1
    paragwinn says:

    “in any designed system, some parts will not currently have a function.”

    could you clarify that?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Reference Notes For Jonathan Wells’ Book – The Myth Of Junk DNA – Hundreds of Studies Outlining Function for ‘Junk’ DNA (Page to chapter 5 notes for studies on pseudogene functionality)
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?.....xHdM_e731g

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Imperfect design is the mark of evolution; inf fact, it’s precisely what we expect from evolution.

    So he admits the design in nature is real and not imagined? It’s not just the appearance of design after all?

    Why then can’t design be studied as part of science?

    I really don’t understand how “dead genes” are a prediction of evolutionary theory.

    …when a trait is no longer used or becomes reduced, the genes that make it don’t instantly disappear from the genome: Evolution stops their action by inactivating them, not snipping them out of the DNA. From this we can make a prediction.

    It’s nice to see how smart evolution is. It doesn’t just get rid of them, it just inactivates them and let’s them hang around. Just in case, I guess.

    But how is this “prediction” not circular?

    Darwinian reasoning is so fuzzy.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the ‘Theological’ (God would not have done it that way) argument behind Coyne’s ‘prediction’, this is actually the same type of argumentation that goes all the way back to Charles Darwin himself. A specific, non-scientific, style of argumentation that he used in Origin of Species itself;

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: “In the Origin,” Dilley writes, “Darwin used a specific theological view of God’s relationship to natural laws in order to argue for evolution and against special creation.” The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action;
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    ,,,and Dr. Hunter points out:,,,

    From Philosopher to Science Writer: The Dissemination of Evolutionary Thought – May 2011
    Excerpt: The powerful theory of evolution hangs on this framework of thought that mandates naturalism. The science is weak but the metaphysics are strong. This is the key to understanding evolutionary thought. The weak arguments are scientific and the strong arguments, though filled with empirical observation and scientific jargon, are metaphysical. The stronger the argument, the more theological or philosophical.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....riter.html

    ,,,moreover, besides the extremely negative impact neo-Darwinian thinking has had on human health in general,,,

    How Darwin’s Theory Changed the World – Rejection of Judeo-Christian values
    Excerpt: Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.).
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-world.htm

    ,,, neo-Darwinism has also contributed nothing to modern medicine in particular,,,;

    Darwinian Medicine and Proximate and Evolutionary Explanations – Michael Egnor – neurosurgeon – June 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47701.html

    ,,, nor has neo-Darwinism contributed anything, at all, to modern science,,,

    Science Owes Nothing To Darwinian Evolution – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028096

    “Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.
    Philip S. Skell – Professor at Pennsylvania State University.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2816

    Podcasts and Article of Dr. Skell
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....40981.html

    ,,, many neo-Darwinists love to claim that they are the defenders of modern science from the irrationality, and superstitions, of the age of Judeo-Christianity, but the fact is that neo-Darwinism is born out of nothing but bad theology. Bad theology that, if followed, will lead back to a real ‘age of superstition’ and irrationality;

    ,,,,Atheists are actually more superstitious than ‘religious’ people:

    Look Who’s Irrational Now
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....54585.html

  5. 5
    arkady967 says:

    “Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution; inf fact, it’s precisely what we expect from evolution.”

    Why would anyone expect design, perfect or otherwise, from non-design anyway? Sometimes this argument looks, simply, like an effort to explain away what seem obvious – design. Perfection of design is a separate consideration from the existence of design.

  6. 6
    Collin says:

    Paragwinn,

    To answer your question, some genes may only be activated at a certain point in an organism’s life. Like in embryo or puberty.

    Also, some genes may be activated by certain environmental conditions that are not currently present, like disease.

    Or even a designed organism may have vestigial genes. It doesn’t mean that the gene was not designed. As an example, look at the first automobiles. They looked a lot like wagons. There was no jump to the Hummer or something. The wagon design was the next step in the evolution of a car, but it was still designed.

  7. 7
    Arthur Hunt says:

    So, just what does Wells say about the fact that almost of the RNA made by pol II is thrown out in the trash? This includes almost all of the “hidden transcriptome” that Wells, Sternberg et al. think testify to some sort of functionality of its encoding DNA.

  8. 8
    uoflcard says:

    Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution; inf fact, it’s precisely what we expect from evolution.

    What a tremendous lack of understanding of design theory. I guess the ceiling fan that I just installed that is making an annoyig ticking sound wasn’t designed…

  9. 9
    GilDodgen says:

    Why is inactivated code a sign of no design, in any event? Intelligent designers inactivate code all the time. In the C programming language anything between /* and */ is treated as a comment and is ignored by the compiler. “Commenting out” is often used to inactivate code but preserve it for possible future use.

    #include <stdio.h>
    int main(void)
    {
    printf(“Hello World!\n”);
    return(0);
    }

    #include <stdio.h>
    int main(void)
    {
    /*printf(“Hello World!\n”);*/
    printf(“Goodbye Cruel World!\n”);
    return(0);
    }

    Was the Hello World! program designed, but the Goodbye Cruel World! program not designed?

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    I wonder if weak molecular bonds are an example of poor design. Or if strong bonds are. Maybe both!

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Or, if your compiler supports C++ style comments:

    // printf(“Hello World!\n”);

    The above Hello World program in Ruby:

    puts “Hello World!”

    🙂

    Look ma, no brackets! Semicolons? optional!

    Another thing you might see in code is code that’s only used for debugging, or only for a particular operating system.

  12. 12
    uoflcard says:

    arkady (5)

    Precisely. Complete ignorance

  13. 13
    uoflcard says:

    Also, my comment #7 wasn’t designed because I misspelled “annoying”

  14. 14
    Mung says:

    …natural selection is a pretty stupid engineer. It simply walks uphill on the fitness surface. If that surface has lots of small peaks, selection is likely to get stuck on one. This will look to us like poor engineering. On the other hand, if the fitness surface were relatively smooth, poor engineering should be hard to find. This does not seem to be the case, however, for nature provides many examples of bad engineering.

    The Evidence for Evolution

    Man, where to begin, lol.

    If there’s poor engineering, the fitness surface must have had lots of small peaks and selection likely got stuck on one. And if it’s not an example of poor engineering the fitness surface must have been smooth. That sounds testable.

    Nature is not an engineer. Therefore nature does not provide examples of bad engineering.

  15. 15
    GilDodgen says:

    Mung:

    The main point is that people like Coyne obviously have no idea what they are talking about concerning computational and functionally integrated, engineered systems.

    Arguing with someone like Coyne is like arguing with someone who has yet to master arithmetic, while he lectures me on the subtleties of finite element analysis and computational fluid dynamics.

  16. 16
    Joseph says:

    Natural selection is an oxymoron…

    But anyway- who said the design had to be perfest or if it started out perfect that it had to remain that way, forever?

    IOW the introduction of genetic accidents into a once very good design would explain what we observe in the way of “bad design”.

    Also the theory evolution doesn’t predict pseudogenes-> it may be able to accomodate them, but it doesn’t predict them.

  17. 17
    GilDodgen says:

    Mung: The above Hello World program in Ruby:

    You need to supply the appropriate HTML tags in your post.

    Just type randomly and I’m sure you’ll get it right eventually.

  18. 18
    Mung says:

    No, really. No need for brackets or semicolons. That was the code. One line.

    It’s simple enough that you could just run it from the command line without even saving it to a file:

    ruby -e ‘puts “Hello World!”‘

  19. 19
    Matteo says:

    The only reasonable explanation is that the Ruby code is simple enough to have occurred by chance and that C++ later evolved from Ruby. Assembly language came afterward, and finally, pure machine code.

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    lol

    Well, the tale has it that the more complex C and C++ came first and that Ruby was designed to be simpler, more elegant, and more fun to use as a programming language 🙂

    But they do have much in common and are obviously related by descent with modification. (The Ruby interpreter itself is actually written in C.)

    Just think what it will be like when other civilizations discover our programming languages and code.

  21. 21
    steve_h says:

    @10
    The simplest PHP program (or jsp, .asp, .aspx) would be

    Hello World

    or in C
    main(){puts(“hi”);}

    Gil won’t tell you this — but in the latter case,most compilers and linkers would issue warnings if you hadn’t specified “maximum strictness” checking options in each to protect yourself from common programmer mistakes. The program would still compile and run — as would your own offspring if they had any number of not immediately fatal mutations in their genomes.

  22. 22
    Barb says:

    Darwinian ‘logic’ never fails to amuse me.

    Scientists have discovered that “junk” DNA plays a vital role in the body by yielding special forms of RNA (ribonucleic acid) that are vital for life. John S. Mattick, director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Australia, feels that the hasty acceptance of the “junk” DNA theory is “a classic story of orthodoxy derailing objective analysis of the facts, in this case for a quarter of a century.” This failure, he adds, “may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.”

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    Even in Darwin’s time, there was evidence here [in the fossil record] supporting evolution, in the sequence of organisms laid down in the rocks. The deepest and oldest sediments show marine invertebrates; fish appear much later, and amphibians, reptiles, and mammals later still. Why should divine creation follow such a path, from the simple to the complex? Yet it is what we would expect with evolution.

    – Jerry A. Coyne, Intelligent Thought. p. 7.

    Someone should do a film on the use of religious arguments posing as science. I’d call it Religulous, but I think that’s taken already.

    So fish are more complex than marine invertebrates, and amphibians are more complex than fish, and reptiles are more complex than amphibians, and mammals are the most complex of them all, and this is just what we’d expect if evolution is true.

    Seriously.

    Not only is that precisely what evolution predicts, but that’s just what we find in the fossil record.

    Miraculous!

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    December 20, 2005. Like many scientists on that day, I awoke feeling anxious. John Jones III, a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was due to issue his ruling …

    – Jerry A. Coyne, Why Evolution is True. p. xi

    It would be pathetic, if it weren’t so laughable.

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