According to the BBC
Ford Doolittle said “Darwinists are a little bit like the pre-Darwinists before them, who would have marveled at the perfection of God’s creation. We tend to marvel at the Darwinian perfection of organisms now, saying ‘this must have been highly selected for, it’s a tuned and sophisticated machine’. In fact, it’s a mess – there’s so much unnecessary complexity.”
Tiny structural errors in proteins may have been responsible for changes that sparked complex life, supporting the idea that natural selection is not the only means by which complexity rises.
Single-celled life gave rise to more complex organisms, and with them came ever-more complicated networks of gene and protein interactions.
Natural selection (praise be upon it) is a theory with no equal in terms of its power to explain how organisms and populations survive through the ages; random mutations that are helpful to an organism are maintained while harmful ones are bred out. But the “adaptive” nature of the changes natural selection (praise be upon it) wreaks may not be the only way that complexity grew.
Protein flaws called “dehydrons” may have made proteins less stable in water and made them more likely to end up working together, building up complex function.
Michael Lynch and Ariel Fernandez considered 106 proteins found in 36 modern-day organisms of widely varying complexity, from single-celled protozoa up to humans.
“We’ve opened up the idea that the roots of complexity don’t have to reside in purely adaptational arguments” Michael Lynch
They studied “dehydrons” – regions of proteins that make them more unstable and sticky in water, raising the probability that they will adhere to other proteins.
Organisms with smaller populations – such as humans – had “accumulated” more of these “defects” than simpler organisms with vastly higher population numbers.
They suggest that the acquisition of these defects, sticky proteins that are more likely to work together in ever-more complex protein-protein interactions, nudged cellular complexity upward.
For example, the protein haemoglobin is made of four identical subunits with a range of dehydron flaws. Simpler organisms have globin molecules that accomplish the same job with just one subunit.
The authors stress that they are not arguing against natural selection as a process; they say rather that it can be aided by “non-adaptive” mechanisms.
“There’s been this general feeling that complexity is a good thing and evolves for complexity’s sake – that it’s adaptive. We’ve opened up the idea that the roots of complexity don’t have to reside in purely adaptational arguments.”
ID proponents will not side naturally with Doolittle’s assessment. Let’s see who is correct.