Intelligent Design

Larry Moran, a Synthetic Genome: Design?

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In a comment to a prior post Larry Moran writes:

Craig Venter and his colleagues constructed a synthetic genome and inserted it into a cell. The DNA determined the structure and properties of the organism that grew and after many subsequent generations we have a new species that behaves exactly like it was supposed to based on the genes that the scientists built.

Now Dr. Moran, suppose that new species escaped the lab and was captured by a researcher who had no idea about Venter’s work.  Suppose further that researcher concluded that the genome of the creature had been intelligently designed.  Would that researcher’s design inference be the true and best explanation of the creature’s genome’s provenance?

 

 

32 Replies to “Larry Moran, a Synthetic Genome: Design?

  1. 1
    Jack Jones says:

    Expect either silence from Larry Moran or lots of dancing from him, like a cat on a hot tin roof.

  2. 2
    Larry Moran says:

    The answer is “yes,” the researcher correctly observed that the genome of the synthetic organism is nothing like the genomes of real species. It lacks pseudogenes, transposons, and any trace of junk DNA and the sequence of its genes and regulatory regions is far too perfect to have evolved naturally.

  3. 3
    J-Mac says:

    Larry,

    How did C. Venter make the synthetic genome? What was so synthetic about it?

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    Dr, Moran, you astonish me. In a good way.

    Thank you for admitting that design leaves indicia that are empirically detectable in biological organisms, and that a design inference is perfectly valid if those indicia are present.

  5. 5
    Andre says:

    Prof Moran

    You bring up an interesting point. So lets say this new organism accumulates junk over time as it replicates and multiplies, it gets pseudo genes and the networks are a bit messy as the generations go on as typical systems in operation tend to do. Does that mean it is any less designed than when it was in pristine condition?

    Does’nt everything new and shiny wear down over time?

  6. 6
    Jack Jones says:

    @2

    “The answer is “yes,” the researcher correctly observed that the genome of the synthetic organism is nothing like the genomes of real species. It lacks pseudogenes, transposons, and any trace of junk DNA and the sequence of its genes and regulatory regions is far too perfect to have evolved naturally.”

    But Larry, if that was an objection against design when it comes to what is outside of the lab, then it fails because the field of biomimetics is about modelling biological organisms for design solutions. If what you cite is an objection against design then the field of biomimetics should not exist.

    Sure, some may spin what is observed in a chance evolutionary context, but if it was clear that biological organisms were not designed and design was such a bad argument for biological organisms then it wouldn’t make sense for designers to look to biological organisms for design solutions.

  7. 7

    Andre, Larry,
    I’m confused as usual, by your posts.
    Suppose I downloaded the genome of his patented organism) and discovered–as is most certainly the case–that he made no changes to the M. genitalium excepting the insertion of a junk-DNA fragment encoding the names of the experimenters (each amino acid is assigned a letter of the alphabet).
    Not only does this organism have all the junk of M. genitalium, but it has the extra junk of the names of the researchers.
    Then you would say it was not designed, and the patent should be rescinded?

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    Dr. Moran,

    I wonder if you will go one step further. In comment 2, you state that the researcher’s design inference is the true and best explanation of the creature’s genome’s provenance.

    Suppose someone pushed back at you and said, “Dr. Moran, your design inference is a scientific show stopper. You have committed the designer-of-the-gaps fallacy. All scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism, and you violate the principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology. Besides all that, it all just a cop out unless you can tell me who designed the designer.”

    What would you say?

  9. 9
    ForJah says:

    Prof Moran,

    Exactly how different does a genome have to be from the rest of life in order to merit such an inference?

    “…and the sequence of its genes and regulatory regions is far too perfect to have evolved naturally.”

    Interesting how evolutionists can bring up the so called “argument from ignorance” here. Let me play the evolutionist and in response, as a hypothetical ID critic, and say….So we don’t know how the regulatory regions could have evolved naturally, therefore Design”

    Nothing like having your cake and eating it too huh?

  10. 10
    Box says:

    Barry, this is excellent! Thank you.

    p.s. Andre #5 wow!

  11. 11
    Daniel King says:

    Arrington:

    All scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism, and you violate the principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology.

    How does making an inference to human design violate methodoligical naturalism?

    Forensics, Sir.

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    DK, please show me where Larry uses the word “human.” Basic reading comprehension sir.

  13. 13
    Larry Moran says:

    Andre asks,

    You bring up an interesting point. So lets say this new organism accumulates junk over time as it replicates and multiplies, it gets pseudo genes and the networks are a bit messy as the generations go on as typical systems in operation tend to do. Does that mean it is any less designed than when it was in pristine condition?

    Interesting point. Could we still detect that the genome was designed one million years from now?

    I don’t know. Maybe not.

    ID proponents claim to be able to detect design several billion years after the event so perhaps I should ask them?

  14. 14
    Larry Moran says:

    Barry Arrington says,

    All scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism, and you violate the principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology.

    But I don’t believe in methodological naturalism so what’s the problem.

    Besides all that, it all just a cop out unless you can tell me who designed the designer.”

    In this case we have a clear idea of who the designer could be since it’s well within the skills of the average molecular biologist. I would have no trouble speculating that it was humans who did it. Wouldn’t you?

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Larry at 14. The key word in your comment is, of course, “speculating.” Of course one could speculate that the designer is a human, but the data does not compel that conclusion. The data compels a design inference. All we can know for certain about the designer is that he/she/it has the capacity to manipulate means to a particular end. Sure, human designer is a plausible speculation, but, as you say, it is only a speculation.

    You don’t believe in methodological naturalism. You’ve astonished me twice in one day.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    Spectre is about to start. Gotta sign off.

  17. 17
    Evolve says:

    Andre,

    ///So lets say this new organism accumulates junk over time as it replicates and multiplies, it gets pseudo genes and the networks are a bit messy as the generations go on as typical systems in operation tend to do. Does that mean it is any less designed than when it was in pristine condition?///

    Through molecular phylogenetics we can still determine after a million years whether this organism evolved from ancestors or sprung into existence all of a sudden.
    This is important in the context of the Cambrian Explosion, which creationists make a big deal about. Molecular data shows that all phyla which appear in the Cambrian fossil record evolved from Precambrian ancestors.

  18. 18
    Evolve says:

    ///The data compels a design inference. All we can know for certain about the designer is that he/she/it has the capacity to manipulate means to a particular end. Sure, human designer is a plausible speculation, but, as you say, it is only a speculation.///

    The data compels a design inference only if:

    1. Alternative explanations are ruled out and/or
    2. Designers capable of executing the task are known

  19. 19
    Andre says:

    Evolve

    Douglas and Erwin will disagree with you about the Pre-Cambrian being ancestors to the Cambrian animals.

  20. 20
    Andre says:

    Prof Moran

    Thank you for your response. I am actually inclined to accept the idea of junk DNA based on this short exchange we had. Anything new and pristine over time will accumulate junk as they operate.

    The take home of course is the accumulation of such junk and messy genes does not invalidate design. It actually affirms what we observe in the operation of systems today. Things tend to wear down and become disorganized over time.

    But let’s take this one step further suppose we know how to strip out the junk because through our observations, experiments and know ledge we’ve learnt what they are. We reorganise the genes and create a new pristine organism, we have now successfully reverse engineered an originally designed system by removing what we know as garbage from it.

  21. 21
    bFast says:

    Larry Moran, “But I don’t believe in methodological naturalism”. How so. Please expound.

  22. 22
    Evolve says:

    ///Douglas and Erwin will disagree with you about the Pre-Cambrian being ancestors to the Cambrian animals///

    No, you’re referring to the Ediacaran fauna. What the molecular data shows is that ancestors of the Cambrian animals existed in the Precambrian, although they may not be the Ediacarans. We’re yet to dig out fossils of these ancestors, but the data nevertheless points to their existence. It doesn’t support a sudden emergence of animals in the Cambrian as creationists claim.

  23. 23
    Evolve says:

    ///The take home of course is the accumulation of such junk and messy genes does not invalidate design.///

    Actually it does.
    Because many of those broken genes and remnants of viruses can be traced back to functional versions in the ancestors we share with other animals. So they stand as a testimony of our evolution or descent with modification from those ancestors. Junk in the genome is very strong evidence for evolution.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Evolve:

    Molecular data shows that all phyla which appear in the Cambrian fossil record evolved from Precambrian ancestors.

    LoL!

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    Evolve:

    The data compels a design inference only if:

    1. Alternative explanations are ruled out and/or
    2. Designers capable of executing the task are known

    That data compel (in the sense of inference to best explanation, not an absolute compulsion) when “design” is the best explanation among alternatives. You don’t get to impose arbitrary restrictions on inference. I can’t imagine why you should think that you do.

  26. 26
    Andre says:

    Evolve

    Have you ever considered how silly you sound when you say we have not found them but the data says they are there… This is why we laugh at you guys. You take it as Gospel with no evidence.

  27. 27
    Andre says:

    Evolve

    Creationists don’t claim animals suddenly appeared in the Cambrian. The data we have does.

  28. 28
    Andre says:

    Evolve

    And you still don’t understand we are not opposed to evolution. We just don’t accept the assumption that it is an unguided process.

  29. 29

    Could we still detect that the genome was designed one million years from now?

    If SETI were to receive a signal from the closest star to earth, Proxima Centauri, it will have traveled well over 24 trillion miles. SETI will nonetheless infer intelligent design because the issue at hand is not time or distance. The issue centers on a rational distinction between arrangements of matter that (in our universal experience) are artificial, versus those that are the result of non-intelligent (unguided) causes. Narrow-band radio signals are in fact a universal correlate of intelligence.

    The same applies to the genome. Like narrow-band radio signals, the issue is not time or distance. The issue is the fact that using spatially-oriented representations to create memory is another universal correlate of intelligence. As long as we can detect the singular material conditions of memory using spatially-oriented representations, then the answer is “yes”, we can detect design.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    BA,

    We can see why it is so important to start from the root of the evolutionary model’s tree of life, origin of cell based, encapsulated and smart gated, metabolic automata that enfold a code based von Neumann kinematic self replicating facility.

    For, origin of such integration of specific, complex, information-rich organised function and effective replication is on the table. And, you cannot appeal to the standard magic spell of chance/non foresighted variation plus differential reproductive success and culling out, as ability to reproduce has to first come about.

    And of course the observational base for blind watchmaker OOL and origin of body plans by such mechanisms is the same: nil.

    That is, the vera causa, explain by actually observed causes test is being failed but suppressed through imposition of a priori materialism by the backdoor of ideological warping of permissible methods. In effect science is being redefined as effectively, applied atheism aided by gross exaggeration of capability of mechanisms that work for minor adaptations, often by breaking existing functions or regulation of same.

    No wonder the usual responsive tactic is to try to impose convenient datum lines and lock out OOL.

    The evidence is, OOL is full of integrated FSCO/I. Further, there is just one observed, needle in haystack search challenge plausible cause for it: intelligently directed configuration.

    Design.

    At the root of the tree of life.

    Which makes it very reasonable to put design on the table all the way up from roots to branches and twigs, including us today. (On the 2% difference from chimp genome claims, 60 mn base prs or 120 mn bits of info to be accounted for in pops of 10,000 maybe and generation times 5 – 20 years, in 6 – 10 Mn y. Where neutral drift across a junk dna space is blind needle in haystack search. Mission impossible, save by design.)

    Of course to the indoctrinated in ideological lockout mode, spewing dismissive talking points, such only proves how much we ignoramus, stupid, insane or wicked “creationists” [to such, equal to the attitude to Nazis . . . itself a sign] and “IDiots” [don’t they see the mentality they are inadvertently revealing] fail to understand “evolution.”

    In their indoctrinated minds — and how do you get to a responsibly, rationally free mind as a basis for discussion — if you understand evolution, you must accept it.

    Fail.

    Johnson’s reply to Lewontin is apt:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence.

    [–> notice, the power of an undisclosed, question-begging, controlling assumption . . . often put up as if it were a mere reasonable methodological constraint; emphasis added. Let us note how Rational Wiki, so-called, presents it:

    “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses.”

    Of course, this ideological imposition on science that subverts it from freely seeking the empirically, observationally anchored truth about our world pivots on the deception of side-stepping the obvious fact since Plato in The Laws Bk X, that there is a second, readily empirically testable and observable alternative to “natural vs [the suspect] supernatural.” Namely, blind chance and/or mechanical necessity [= the natural] vs the ART-ificial, the latter acting by evident intelligently directed configuration. [Cf Plantinga’s reply here and here.]

    And as for the god of the gaps canard, the issue is, inference to best explanation across competing live option candidates. If chance and necessity is a candidate, so is intelligence acting by art through design. And if the latter is twisted into a caricature god of the gaps strawman, then locked out, huge questions are being oh so conveniently begged.]

    That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    KF

  31. 31
    Jack Jones says:

    Professor Moran will believe in all kinds of invisible creatures, ie: ghost lineages, missing precursor fossils/links. He is happy to believe all kinds of invisible entities but he will not accept a designer created living organisms or an initial living organism because he hasn’t seen the designer.

    He is content to stick with an unseen process which contradicts the law of Biogenesis for how nature operates and he is willing to believe in invisible Creatures to support his faith.

    The Strange Metaphysical World of Evolution
    by Frank Sherwin, M.A. *
    Evidence for Creation

    Secular colleges and universities, the media, and the Internet are alive with vitriolic accusations regarding the supposedly unscientific nature of creation science.

    But is evolutionary science itself “scientific”? In opposition to what is normally claimed, it would seem that when it comes to the supernatural, secular science not only believes in it—it also depends on it.

    For example, evolutionists believe in “ghosts.” Commenting on the implications of finding tetrapod tracks “18 million years” earlier than expected, authors of a Nature study stated, “This forces us to infer much longer ghost lineages for tetrapods and elpistostegids [lobe-finned fish] than the body fossil record suggests.”1

    “Ghost lineages” are conjured up to explain puzzling gaps in the fossil record. A particular animal might appear near the bottom of the record, be absent for many strata, then reappear far above the first layer. In some cases, the upper specimen is found first, then another much lower down. Sometimes a lower-layer fossil is surprisingly discovered still alive!

    Commenting on the issue of ghost lineages, creation writer David Coppedge said, “In other words, [evolutionists] see phantoms in their evolutionary mind’s eye. They see mythical entities that must have existed, simply because their belief system requires them. And you thought science required evidence.”2

    The enigma of ghost lineages is solved when the rock record is decoupled from belief in millions of years. Some of the same kinds of organisms may have been inundated and fossilized earlier in the year of the Great Flood, with others fossilized a little later on. Large hiatuses in the fossil record are no mystery if all these creatures lived at the same time, as the Genesis record states.

    In similar vein, evolutionists believe in mysterious powers, like “the 5th Force: a mysterious new power [that] is shaping our cosmos,” according to New Scientist. The article says, “A force that keeps changing its spots might explain the mysteries of dark energy,” although this cryptic dark energy “has never been seen or produced on Earth.”3

    Some evolutionists believe in invisible hands:

    Our findings confirm that cooperation does not always require benevolence or deliberate planning. This form of cooperation, at least, is guided by an “invisible hand,” as happens so often in Darwin’s theory of natural selection.4

    Some evolutionists believe in magic. Kathryn Applegate of BioLogos said, “The bacterial flagellum may look like an outboard motor, but there is at least one profound difference: the flagellum assembles spontaneously, without the help of any conscious agent.” Acknowledging that “the self-assembly of such a complex machine almost defies the imagination,” Dr. Applegate assures the reader that this is not really a problem, because “natural forces work ‘like magic.’”5 Magic is defined as “the use of charms, spells, etc. in seeking or pretending to control events,” or “any mysterious power.”6

    Some evolutionists have faith there’s something unknowable out there—as long as it’s not the revealed Creator of the Bible. “I suspect there could be [alien] life and intelligence out there in forms that we can’t conceive” said Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society.7

    Each of these metaphysical claims contradicts a standard doctrine of evolutionary naturalism—that nothing exists outside the physical universe. But faced with the facts of a created cosmos, in which the “invisible things” of God are so clear that no one has an excuse for failing to recognize their Creator, evolutionists instead choose to attribute them to wacky, unseen, and unknowable imaginary causes.

    http://www.icr.org/article/str.....-evolution

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    COMMENTS ON THIS THREAD ARE CLOSED.

    Any further Comments should be placed in the thread under the “Apology to Dr. Moran” post.

Comments are closed.