Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon offers some thoughts on junk DNA, the claim that most of the human genome does nothing (often an argument for explicitly Darwinian evolution):
a) Chance is the truly unfalsifiable hypothesis, because all it gives you is a number. 1:10, 1:10^500 are all the same as far as the Darwinist is concerned. Even Dembski’s “1:10^150” possibility bound is not a limit to them. So everything I say about designers has to be seen against that light.
Of course, in the Darwinist’s defense, they don’t really get probability and logarithms.
b) A designer is recognized by a pattern. Writing experts can isolate a piece of scribal work to within 50 years by looking at the style. Architecture students can spot a building and do the same. A Frank Lloyd Wright house is unique. Engineers still marvel at the way Brunel built railway bridges, and even an unfamiliar one can be immediately identified.
In exactly the same way, biologists and biochemists can spot the way design determines the organism. This is not a generic “something designed it”, but a specific, personal, “I know how this designer thinks.” It is precisely because Wright had the liberty to build several different ways, that he could impose his signature on the design. We would be doing him a disservice to say “he couldn’t have built it any other way”.
c) Junk DNA is “patternless”. By definition it is characterized by randomness. Therefore it is not possible to believe that patternless systems were built by pattern-loving designers. This is why Dan Graur is so intent on proving the existence of junk DNA. It really is a defeater for designers.
d) But what if randomness is put to use in the cell such that the immune system finds antibodies by randomly permuting the branches of a Y-shaped molecule? Well, for one thing, it shows that we aren’t really very good at detecting “patternless” objects. After all, if we try a finite set of patterns on it, which fail to match, it only means that the pattern is not one we know. As it turns out, those antibodies are not that random, but exploring a part of phase space that is very likely to find a match to the antigen.
If normal proteins are 1:10^77 patterns according to Axe, then perhaps the phase space for these antibodies is something like 1:10^30—which while less specific than an enzyme, would still win you the Lotto.
So the real problem with falsifying the ID hypothesis isn’t that “any old random arrangement can be called design”, but rather “we often can’t tell random arrangements from design”. However this second problem is soluble: As we build up our library of patterns, we are better and better at separating them. That’s what Dan Graur hates so much about the ENCODE project–we are learning too much about design.
See also: Junk DNA: Dan Graur (junk!), ENCODE team (not junk!), and the science media
Anything I remove without causing immediate catastrophe Must Be Junk
Some thoughts on how we know when things are junk (or not)