Intelligent Design

More Evidence for Front Loading

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Once one overcomes their prejudice and admits intelligent design as a live option for science to consider then you start to look at “evolution” as an engineering project instead of a big accident. Everything in macroevolution makes sense from this perspective. One of the predictions of front loading is that we may find genomic building blocks for things like complex organs and body plans in organisms lacking those things and whose ancestors never had those things. Those things are there for the future. Chance & necessity can’t build things for future use. Intelligent design is a proactive mechanism which can implement contingency plans for future circumstance. Chance & necessity is a reactive mechanism that cannot plan for the future – it can only react to the present circumstance.

Note that in this case an intelligent designer needn’t be “God”, although it could be. The intelligent designer only requires rather advanced (beyond current human level) expertise in biochemistry and genetic engineering. Intelligent design can be considered without regard or resort to anything from revealed religious scriptures. The meme Intelligent Design is really Scientific or Biblical Creationism is a red herring designed to thwart the introduction of ID into the public school setting through legal chicanery.

Add the following to the growing mountain of scientific evidence pointing to design in the history of life:

Science 22 August 2008:
Vol. 321. no. 5892, pp. 1028 – 1029
DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5892.1028b

GENOMICS: ‘Simple’ Animal’s Genome Proves Unexpectedly Complex

Elizabeth Pennisi

Aptly named “sticky hairy plate,” Trichoplax adhaerens barely qualifies as an animal. About 1 millimeter long and covered with cilia, this flat marine organism lacks a stomach, muscles, nerves, and gonads, even a head. It glides along like an amoeba, its lower layer of cells releasing enzymes that digest algae beneath its ever-changing body, and it reproduces by splitting or budding off progeny. Yet this animal’s genome looks surprisingly like ours, says Daniel Rokhsar, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) and the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California. Its 98 million DNA base pairs include many of the genes responsible for guiding the development of other animals’ complex shapes and organs, he and his colleagues report in the 21 August issue of Nature.

Biologists had once assumed that complicated body plans and complex genomes went hand in hand. But T. adhaerens’s genome, following on the heels of the discovery of a similarly sophisticated genome in a sea anemone (Science, 6 July 2007, p. 86), “highlights a disconnect between molecular and morphological complexity,” says Mark Martindale, an experimental embryologist at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Adds Casey Dunn, an evolutionary biologist at Brown University, “It is now completely clear that genomic complexity was present very early on” in animal evolution.

Ever since German zoologist Franz Eilhard Schulze first found Trichoplax more than a century ago in a saltwater aquarium, this disc-shaped animal has stirred debate. It has just four apparent types of cells, prompting Schulze and others to consider it a holdover from the earliest animals. They eventually assigned it to its own phylum, Placozoa.

But not everyone agrees which branch of the animal tree of life is oldest: sponges, comb jellies, or placozoans. And a few researchers have dismissively argued that placozoans are just larvae of cnidarians–jellyfish, sea anemones, and the like–or else a streamlined version of a cnidarian ancestor.

Rokhsar, his graduate student Mansi Srivastava, and their colleagues sequenced a Trichoplax from the Red Sea, finding an estimated 11,514 protein-coding genes. After comparing the sequences of 104 Trichoplax genes with their counterparts in other organisms, they concluded that placozoans aren’t the oldest animals; they branched off after sponges but before cnidaria. Placing Trichoplax on the tree “will now allow us to understand how to interpret its biology in the context of animals as a whole,” says Dunn.

The sequence is also clarifying what ancient genomes looked like. Trichoplax genes have comparable numbers of introns, noncoding regions interspersed between the coding regions, as vertebrates and as the sea anemone. And many of the same genes were linked on the chromosomes of vertebrates, Trichoplax, and sea anemones, the researchers report. This was not the case with the fruit fly and nematode genomes, whose genes have fewer introns and have moved about quite a bit.

Despite being developmentally simple–with no organs or many specialized cells–the placozoan has counterparts of the transcription factors that more complex organisms need to make their many body parts and tissues. It also has genes for many of the proteins, such as membrane proteins, needed for specialized cells to coordinate their function. “Many genes viewed as having particular ‘functions’ in bilaterians or mammals turn out to have much deeper evolutionary history than expected, raising questions about why they evolved,” says Douglas Erwin, an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C.

Trichoplax could yet be more complex than observed, perhaps having subtle differences in cell types. Or, the amoeboid form may be just one phase of a complex life cycle that’s still undiscovered, says Rokhsar.

The surprises in the Trichoplax genome emphasize the importance of sequencing other early-arising species, such as comb jellies or different kinds of sponges, says evolutionary biologist Allen Collins of the National Marine Fisheries Service and NMNH. “The more taxa we fill in,” says Collins, “the clearer our picture will be for how the entire suite of these molecules evolved over the critical time early in metazoan history.”

20 Replies to “More Evidence for Front Loading

  1. 1
    Granville Sewell says:

    Maybe there’s a selective advantage for possessing the genes for a trait that hasn’t evolved yet?

    Dave, this is why mathematicians, physicists and engineers have to jump into the fray, evolutionary biologists are just too stupid–or too dishonest–to draw the obvious conclusions from their own research. Today’s evolutionary theory is completely unfalsifiable, as W.E.Loennig likes to say.

  2. 2
    kairos says:

    Dave, a question.
    How did prominent NDE supporter comment or explain
    this fact?

  3. 3
    DaveScot says:

    Granville

    Think of a light future sensitive spot.

  4. 4
    Granville Sewell says:

    Kairos,

    They say “many genes viewed as having particular functions in …mammals turn out to have a much deeper evolutionary history than expected, raising questions about why they evolved.” And that’s as far as their reasoning abilities will take them.

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    The question isn’t why they evolved. The question is how they evolved. The answer is they didn’t evolve.

  6. 6

    As I previously posted on this blog before, the IQ of biologists entering graduate school is lower than the other fields you mention, Granville. Even James Watson would admit that.

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    Well, darwinists, like old timers in science fiction, seem to share an incredible amount of “sense of wonder”. There is almost no new relevant research paper which does not include words like “surprisingly”, “unexpectedly”,and similar.

    But hope is stronger than any human challenge to faith. And so, after the promising admission about “raising questions”, we are promptly reassured that “the more taxa we fill in, the clearer our picture will be for how the entire suite of these molecules evolved.”

    Unexpectedly and surprisingly clearer, may be?

  8. 8
    Upright BiPed says:

    Another intense research project concludes that genomic complexity existed in deep time among simple life forms. The research also concludes that these simple life forms carried the genetic information necessary to build the complex life forms of the distant future.

    This surprising and unexpected result is in direct opposition to the Darwinian paradigm of simple life forms evolving into complex life forms over deep time.

    Therefore, we find that the Darwinian paradigm of simple life forms evolving into complex life forms over deep time to be the best rational explanation for life on this planet.

  9. 9
    kairos says:

    #6 William Wallace

    As I previously posted on this blog before, the IQ of biologists entering graduate school is lower than the other fields you mention, Granville. Even James Watson would admit that.

    I also did post about.
    I don’t know directly the situation in USA but in Europe is quite typical that in Universities the students in Biological sciences have pretty low levels of Mathematics knowledge and undetanding

  10. 10
    Granville Sewell says:

    Kairos and William Wallace, please note that my comments were directed at “evolutionary biologists”, not “biologists”! I have heard people say that biochemist Michael Behe has no right to an opinion on evolution because he is not an “evolutionary biologist”, but it is clear that SOMEONE has to help these people draw the obvious conclusions.

  11. 11
    PaV says:

    As a kind of Darwinian backdrop to all of this, let’s keep in mind how Darwin himself saw evolution as taking place.

    Remember that he saw Charles Lyell as his hero. Both attended the Univ. of Edinburgh, where James Hutton’s geological views prevailed. Hutton saw the earth as “eternally” old, which gives rise to Lyell’s “gradualism”, and, afterwards, Darwin’s “biological gradualism”, which he called evolution: variation + inheritance + lots of time.

    Darwin expected that the geological record, when fully examined, would turn up huge amounts of fossils going way back in time. For example, the formation of the eye, per Darwin, could only have come about through eons of gradual evolution, even though it shows up right away in the Cambrian. Darwin fully expected as much of a fossil record before the Cambrian as we see after the Cambrian.

    More and more we keep seeing the rise of genetic complexity within an increasingly smaller amount of geologic time—the exact opposite of what Darwin expected. But, of course, this doesn’t slow down the Darwinists one bit (or should I say, one byte?).

    Over at PT, I said years ago, that once full genome analysis came about, that this would be the death knell of Darwinism. Well, IMO, we’re seeing that come about little bit by little byte.

  12. 12
    sparc says:

    Granville Sewell

    evolutionary biologists are just too stupid–or too dishonest–to draw the obvious conclusions from their own research

    William Wallace

    the IQ of biologists entering graduate school is lower than the other fields you mention, Granville

    kairos (-focus?)

    I don’t know directly the situation in USA but in Europe is quite typical that in Universities the students in Biological sciences have pretty low levels of Mathematics knowledge and undetanding

    Granville Sewell

    Kairos and William Wallace, please note that my comments were directed at “evolutionary biologists”, not “biologists”!

    Actually, the last comment of Granville doesn’t make much of a difference. Anyway, after Jack Krebs, Bob O’H and Allen MacNeill had been banned there are not too many biologists left here beside me. In addition, I am a product of one of those European universities you sneer at. Thus you won’t be surprised that the arrogance of you guys who don’t even deserve to be called idiots in its original Latin meaning really pisses me off.

  13. 13
    Larry Fafarman says:

    BTW, Dave, as I noted before, there is the question of how front-loaded changes could be simultaneously triggered in different kinds of organisms in the co-evolution of obligate mutualism and complex parasitisms. Just something to think about.

    As the saying goes, the more we know, the more we realize how much there is that we don’t know.

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    Dave,

    Is this the same thing or something different

    http://www.idscience.org/

  15. 15
    magnan says:

    The summary leaves it somewhat ambiguous whether the transcription factors and genes of proteins used in higher animals have absolutely no function in Trichoplax. Wouldn’t they be lost by genetic drift if they didn’t?

    If they actually have some function in Trichoplax, then evolutionary biologists would confidently explain that they were “simply” coopted for more complex functions in higher animals. I think that in order to use this study as ammunition for front loading this scenario needs to be invalidated.

  16. 16
    kairos says:

    #12 sparc

    In addition, I am a product of one of those European universities you sneer at.

    Sir, I didn’t argue against Universities; I simply observed what is a deterministic fact: almost all the students attending Biology classes have modest (and often very modest) knowledge and capabilities in Mathematics. Obviously, this does not mean at all that there aren’t any students who are brilliant in that subject. I hope that you belong to the second category, but that’s the reality. That’s all.

    Thus you won’t be surprised that the arrogance of you guys who don’t even deserve to be called idiots in its original Latin meaning really pisses me off.

    Ok; now I’ve understood.
    You definitely DON’T belong to the second category 🙂

  17. 17
    DaveScot says:

    sparc

    Try to keep up. Allen MacNeil isn’t banned here. Jack Krebs doesn’t know his ass from his elbow in either biology or theology yet consumed vast quantities of bandwidth expressing his opinions in both. He simply took up too much time and space in correction. BobOH’s banning wasn’t my doing. As I recall he was snarky with Denyse one time too many and Bill Dembski’s chivalrous instinct got the better of him. In my experience Denyse has a thick enough skin to qualify for being “tough as nails” and doesn’t need protection. Snark rolls off her like water off a duck’s back. For the record I regret the loss of BobOH. He’s two faced, snarky, and not very bright but still represents the cream of the crop amongst our critics and I’d welcome him back.

  18. 18
    DaveScot says:

    sparc

    As a matter of fact, now that I’m thinking about it, Bill owes me one for unbanning Ted Davis. So I’m going to unban BobOH with same caveat:

    BobOH – you’re unbanned but Bill Dembski has the last word so if you can’t keep him happy if he bans you again that’s it.

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    I do not think it is the IQ of people that leads them to what they believe and what they defend. For instance, the strongest case for ID is cosmology.

    I am watching a Teaching Company course on Dark Matter and Dark Energy by Sean Carroll who is a brilliant instructor and a committed atheist. Also apparently nearly all cosmologists are atheists. I find this very interesting. Very, very bright people whose field is the strongest case for ID and they are atheists.

    The funny thing is that Carroll more than once talks about the great design, not in those terms, of the universe and matter.

    This is not the Sean Carroll who is the evo devo guy even though the name is identical.

  20. 20
    DaveScot says:

    magnan

    Knockout experiments with Trichoplax ought to be able to quickly and cheaply answer the question about whether those genes have any immediate functionality.

    But here’s what happened the last someone did that. A 1.5 million base region containing thousands of highly conserved non-coding sequences between mice and men were deleted from the mouse. The GM mice were expected to have all kinds of genetic impairments and thus lead to insight about what the highly conserved non-coding sequences did in the human genome. To everyone’s great surprise the GM mice were indistinguishable in any way from unmodified mice. The researchers shrugged it off by saying there must be some function they overlooked because, you see, conservation of DNA over 180 million years of reproducitive isolation axoimatically means there must be natural selection value. Natural selection can’t be questioned because it’s a “fact”. The researchers didn’t go further. They stated their goal was to find function in highly conserved DNA not non-function in highly conserved DNA. So they abandoned the mouse/man comparison and instead moved farther afield to highly conserved frog/man and fish/man non-coding DNA where the reproductive isolation is considerably longer.

    Neo-Darwinian “facts” are immune to falsification. Isn’t that just precious?

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