69 Replies to “Science Deprived Whackaloon Creationist Writings From Down Under

  1. 1
    van says:

    I gotta tell you…I haven’t read this article yet, but quite honestly it’s extremely irritating to hear how “abysmal” something is without getting even a simple explanation of what exactly is so absymal. I mean is every word written in that article an “abysmal lack of knowledge?” What specifically do you have in mind? This unsupported assertion stuff is usually an evolutionist tactic, but it’s just as irritating and unprofessional and useless when it comes from the other side. Dave, I would suggest that you re-write this post, single out what you find wrong or “abysmal lack of knowledge” with the article, and present it to the group. Heck, I might even agree with you.

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    Van

    I didn’t quote anything from the article beyond the source, title, and author for a good reason. If you read the article I think you’ll understand the point I’m making.

  3. 3
    Noremacam says:

    It’s 7 pages long. A quote would be ideal, if nothing more than to point the discussion…

  4. 4
    bFast says:

    van:

    I gotta tell you…I haven’t read this article yet, but quite honestly it’s extremely irritating to hear how “abysmal” something is without getting even a simple explanation of what exactly is so absymal.

    Honestly, after reading the article I have concluded that DaveScot is speaking solidly tongue-in-cheek.

  5. 5
    bFast says:

    We software developers have always been bewildered that an organism as complex as a human can be coded in a few gigabytes of code. The idea that we can be coded with 95% of that code being non-functional “junk” is even more baffling. Discovering that the code is somehow unfathomably intrecate makes a lot of sense.

    Boy my code would be cool if it could run forwards and backwards, if I could have interlocking functions, and if the average line of code was used in an average of 5 unique functions.

    DNA as the product of a mind far advanced from my own makes far more sense than DNA as the product of an extremely simple evolutionary algorithm that spontaneously came into being.

  6. 6
    vjtorley says:

    After skimming this article, all I can say is: wow. Now I can see what the fuss is all about. The author managed to put it all together in a way that finally made sense to me. I’ll have to re-read it a few times, but I can imagine that dyed-in-the-wool Darwinians will do their level best to stop high school and college students getting hold of “big picture” articles like this one.

    Personally, I believe that the ID movement should focus more on DNA and less on technical issues like irreducible complexity, where the waters get muddied very quickly with scientific claims and counter-claims. The average person reading about recent discoveries regarding DNA cannot help but realize that the way in which the DNA molecule processes information is orders of magnitude smarter than anything scientists could have dreamed up, had they been asked to design a self-replicating molecule. Something that our best scientific brains are unable to design and are struggling to even describe can only be described as a manifestation of some sort of Intelligence.

    By the way, Dave, here’s a link you might be interested in: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci.....873294.stm . I liked the heading for your post, by the way.

  7. 7
    van says:

    dave: “I didn’t quote anything from the article beyond the source, title, and author for a good reason. If you read the article I think you’ll understand the point I’m making.”

    Alright, fine. I didn’t mean to come off sournding rude, but I’ve had my chain yanked too many times by evolutionists, who so often will point to a multi-paged paper and say, “see, there’s the evidence.” Meanwhile, I’ll read through the whole paper, searching endlessly for their ‘evidence’ and it never appears. I suppose one of my pet peeves is wasting my time searching for someone else’s point, or worse, guessing as to what it is.

  8. 8
    van says:

    by the way, that is a great article. 🙂

  9. 9
    GilDodgen says:

    Dave,

    You are a scoundrel, and that’s one of the main things I like about you.

    The notion that the stuff presented in this paper can be accounted for with silly 19th-century speculation — based entirely upon hideous and thoroughgoing ignorance about how living systems work — could only be taken seriously by people who are living in a fantasy world, completely divorced from the reality of real science and logic. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out that shooting bullets into a computer can’t make it work better, no matter how much time is allowed, yet that is what the Darwinists ask us to believe.

  10. 10
    tragicmishap says:

    lol, nice one Dave. I skimmed most of it trying in vain to find the “abysmal lack of knowledge” and began wondering what you were talking about. Then I read post #4 and it all became clear to me. 😀

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    What? Is there some science in that article buried in all the religious mumbo jumbo that I somehow missed? 😉

  12. 12

    In line with this article, recall Barry Commoner’s piece (“Unraveling the DNA Myth: The Spurious Foundation of Genetic Engineering”) from back in 2002:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0209-01.htm

  13. 13
    WeaselSpotting says:

    Williams cuts an impressive figure, actually. Botany, theology, information theory, not to mention previous work debunking various materialistic cosmological notions.

    Dismissing the YEC folks out of hand is all too simple. IMO, they’ve done a great job raising questions about various dating techniques, and it’s nice to see UD picking up on that (as in the Triassic Shore Birds post).

  14. 14
    uoflcard says:

    If what is said in that article about DNA is true…I cannot begin to fathom the “well it could have happened this way” stories from devout Darwinists. The more we learn about how biological systems actually work, the less sense Darwin makes. I don’t blame him…his theory may have made a lot of sense before the fossil record began approach its final state, before the discovery of the incredible complexity within a cell, before the discovery of DNA, and perhaps most importantly, before the discovery of how DNA truly works

    Anyone have a link to a naturalist trying to spin these discoveries? I am very, very curious as to what their response could possibly be. Unless it is that these claims about how “Junk” DNA actually works are false, I can’t imagine it

  15. 15
    WeaselSpotting says:

    I am very, very curious as to what their response could possibly be. Unless it is that these claims about how “Junk” DNA actually works are false, I can’t imagine it

    They just dismiss it all as “leaky transcription”.

  16. 16
    Mats says:

    I was about to shoot fire and brimbstone at Dave, but then I read the coments. Phew.

    I can relate to van’s initial comment, specially spending so much time reading the nonsence that comes from Little Green Footballs when it comes to evolution

  17. 17
    critiacrof says:

    “This means that everyone is a mutant many times over” The next time someone says that I’m unique, I won’t take it as a compliment.
    Great article! My favourite part was:
    “All of these cells contain the same DNA, so how does each cell know how to become a nerve cell rather than a blood cell? The required information is written in code down the side of the DNA double-helix in the form of different molecules attached to the nucleotides that form the ‘rungs’ in the ‘ladder’ of the helix.” Sounds a lot like bookmarks.

  18. 18
    Joseph says:

    Yup, Dave got me too!!!

    It is obvious from this article that Creationists don’t know nuthin’ ’bout biology. 🙂

    (I guess that makes them as smart as evolutionists) 😉

  19. 19
    Joseph says:

    One code the author “missed” is the membrane code- the so-called membranome.

    That is there is information in the cell membrane as well as all organelle membranes.

    This information is used to reconstruct all membranes during replication. Otherwise everything would be halved into non-existence.

    The membranome was first “discovered” when scientists cut a piece of the cortex of a Paramecium, inverted it 180, and re-inserted it. When that organism replicated the daughter cells also had the inversion.

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    “Anyone have a link to a naturalist trying to spin these discoveries? I am very, very curious as to what their response could possibly be.”

    They will say it was selected for.

  21. 21
    JDH says:

    I had a Eureka moment when reading about the cake-toy analogy. Of course the meta-information in the UTR’s is much more abundant than the small amount of information in the transcribed portion. It takes much more coding to communicate how to put the proteins together and what order to manufacture them, than to decide which protein to make.

    To celebrate the ignorance that thought all the UTR’s were just “junk”, I suggest that UD put together the “Neo-Darwinian Cookbook”. Each recipe would only list the “important” ingredient list. It would get rid of all of the “junk” that explained HOW to actually cook the recipe. I am sure this much more efficiently encoded cookbook which only contained the important ingredients list would be naturally selected.

  22. 22
    GSV says:

    To GilDodgen
    “It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out that shooting bullets into a computer can’t make it work better, no matter how much time is allowed, yet that is what the Darwinists ask us to believe.”

    I can follow most of the stuff here but I have no idea what this means can you explain it\point me to an explanation somewhere? Thank you.

  23. 23
    jerry says:

    The whackaloon comes at the end where he swallows the “we are doomed” scenario of Sanford.

    Williams made an argument for design of the genome, amazing design involving all the elements of the genome. And then trashes that argument by invoking Sanford and trashing natural selection.

    If the genome is so intertwined then any mutation should set it off for a miscarriage so that only pristine genomes can make it through. If a few mutations do not upset the incredible machinery, then fine, they will make it through but not too many. But too many mutations undermines his thesis that the whole genome is fine tuned to do amazing things. The evoking of Sanford at the end is a sop to the YEC’s and undermines his credibility overall.

    I am now suspect of the rest of the discussion. Which ones did he color to suit his scenario. Maybe not too many since he led us to what seems like an obvious contradiction at the end.

    Dave, thank you for pointing out the whackaloon.

  24. 24
    bFast says:

    I wish I had a citation for every memory of stuff I’ve read.

    I remember reading some general darwinan conclusions that of course 98% of DNA is junk because 2% is the most information that natural selection could realistically juggle. (I think they overestimate the powers of natural selection.)

    Alas a majority of DNA is meaningfully informative. Much of DNA being multiply informative (there’s about 100,000 protein types but only 20,000 protein coding genes). At some point the darwinists need to cry “uncle.” Maybe these guys won’t cry uncle ’til their arm is fully twisted off.

  25. 25
    ellijacket says:

    So where are all the darwinians playing down this article? I was hoping for some constructive rebuttals.

  26. 26
    butifnot says:

    “If the genome is so intertwined then any mutation should set it off for a miscarriage so that only pristine genomes can make it through”

    That it’s fine tuned and robust seems very well supported by observation. If/when we produce something comparable then statements like yours proclaiming how it works might mean something.

    ” The evoking of Sanford at the end is a sop to the YEC’s and undermines his credibility overall”

    Undermines his credibility with some, because of their beliefs.

    “Which ones did he color to suit his scenario”

    The idea that ‘scientist’ don’t have a ‘scenario’ is amusing in a way. Everyone is looking at the same thing and they all interpret it through their own color. Every actual observation of biology is consistent with a decline. If that happens to be consistent with YEC, so what?

  27. 27
    Joseph says:

    I have the neo-darwinian solution!

    Even if we granted that the first biological information came into existence by a random process in an ‘RNAworld’ scenario, the meta-information needed to use that information could not possibly come into existence by the same random (independent) process because metainformation is inextricably dependent upon the information that it relates to. page 5

    I call it the “Reese’s peanut-butter cup” solution:

    1. We start with this “population” of molecules waiting to do something- those with the “first biological information”.

    Just floating around not sure what to do. Just sure they have something to do.

    2. This other population springs up via random collisions of atoms. This population has the meta-information- that is information that tells other molecules what to do, how to do it, when and where.

    They too are floating around not caring that no one is listening because everyone is busy talking.

    3- A huge under-sea fault ruptures, forcing both populations onto a land mass via a tsunami.

    The same land mass. And left in the same small warm pond.

    4- Thunderstorms roll over this land mass and badda-bing, badda-boom, we get the reese’s peanut-butter cup solution-

    The talkers link up with the do-ers.

    The rest is history.

    Ya see we are all comforted by the fact that this happened.

  28. 28
    eintown says:

    Hey all… this is my first post 🙂

    I’d like to point out a few problems. This is just from the bits I’ve read.

    (1) Many plants have far more chromosomes and DNA than humans. If complexity was wholly dependent upon DNA levels, then plants such as Magnolia soulangiana, with 30 extra chromosomes then humans, should be more complex. But I think it’s fair to say that this is not the case.

    (2) “Finally, 95% of its functional information shows no sign of having been naturally selected; on the contrary, it is rapidly degenerating!” Williams then goes on to explain that no signs of selection pressure on this “junk” means natural selection is not “a significant contributor to our ancestry”. This is incorrect:
    (i)This 95% portion of our DNA is “mutating at the average rate” because it has no essential function. Parts of the genome that have highly important functions do not change much over millennia. If regions exhibit normal patterns of mutational change, then if those regions have a function it is either non-essential or flexible to change. (ii) Just because 95% of our genome is not undergoing positive selection, that doesn’t rule out the other 5% undergoing selection. And again we have the importance of a few thousand genes on our development etc.

    Any comments? Thanks for reading.

  29. 29
    DaveScot says:

    eintown

    re; genome vs. phenome complexity

    read this: c-value enigma

    then this: front loading & c-value

    plants, by the way, are notorious for polyploidy which is the usual reason in them for lots of chromosomes

    interestingly many very large genomes in organisms that aren’t otherwise complex occur in so-called living fossils – organisms that have survived unchanged far far longer than the average (10my) for any single species – if front loading is true these would be candidates for prototype organisms which carry in them the unexpressed information for a great many derivatives (built-in plasticity) – but front loading is a whole other topic which I’ve written much about so google it and read if interested and also check out the book “The Design Matrix” by Mike Gene who’s a well known front loading proponent

    cells don’t tend to waste resources and the fact of the matter is that almost all the non-coding DNA is transcribed into untranslated RNA – transcription itself is tightly regulated process that doesn’t occur willy nilly – a bunch of junk RNA molecules floating around in the cytoplasm would gum things up pretty quickly and be vast waste of resources – just because it doesn’t undergo mutation at the same rate as critical coding genes doesn’t mean much – what if it’s some sort of fluid memory? – liken highly conserved coding and non-coding DNA to genes to hardware and firmware in a computer and the more rapidly changing portions to ram – one thing more complex organisms have that don’t appear to be contained in coding genes are instincts – yet every single egg cell has all the information in it to produce an organism with complex built-in behaviors characteristic of its species – as others here have stated the idea that a construct as complex as an adult human being can be completely & reliably specified from about a gigabyte (which is the information holding capacity of 3 gigabases) is almost absurd – if 90% of that is uneeded “junk” it then means a human adult can be completely and reliably specified in just 100 megabytes of information and that, to any engineer familiar with specifications for complex systems, is patently absurd

  30. 30
    jerry says:

    eintown,

    Thank you for your input. I will just add this from Wikipedia

    “The C-value enigma or C-value paradox is a term used to describe the complex puzzle surrounding the extensive variation in nuclear genome size among eukaryotic species. At the center of the C-value enigma is the observation that genome size does not correlate with organismal complexity; for example, some single-celled protists have genomes much larger than that of humans.”

    Thus, it is likely that humans have junk DNA, how much is the question?

    The whole scenario may still have a problem for neo darwinists because the processes Williams describes seem so complex and so far beyond the power of variation and selection. I assume they are accurate. However, he ruins his over all presentation by introducing Sanford’s thesis at the end. It is a non sequitur.

    So as Dave said, Willaims is a whackaloon.

  31. 31
    Domoman says:

    You know it could be that the information in the genome is complex almost beyond reason, but not quite enough so that it could not withstand degeneration.

    Very obviously the genome is very, very complex, and very obviously the genome is also degenerating. If an intelligence is intelligent enough to make the genome, I see no reason that it would also not be intelligent enough to make it damage resistant.

  32. 32
    Domoman says:

    BTW, by “complex” I’m using it broadly. I’m meaning more specifically a largely integrated and fine-tuned system.

  33. 33
    pubdef says:

    #5:

    DNA as the product of a mind far advanced from my own makes far more sense than DNA as the product of an extremely simple evolutionary algorithm that spontaneously came into being.

    #6:

    The average person reading about recent discoveries regarding DNA cannot help but realize that the way in which the DNA molecule processes information is orders of magnitude smarter than anything scientists could have dreamed up, had they been asked to design a self-replicating molecule. Something that our best scientific brains are unable to design and are struggling to even describe can only be described as a manifestation of some sort of Intelligence.

    This is curious logic. My restatement: “This is way more complicated than anything I’ve ever seen that was the product of intelligence. Therefore, it must be the product of intelligence.”
    Reminds me of something I’ve heard from Dennett, although he’s quoting someone else I can’t bring to mind now: “Evolution is smarter than you are.”

  34. 34
    fnds says:

    “Very obviously the genome is very, very complex, and very obviously the genome is also degenerating. If an intelligence is intelligent enough to make the genome, I see no reason that it would also not be intelligent enough to make it damage resistant.”

    Is this a rehash of the “bad design means no design” argument? Please read http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/#nobdesn

    Again, Bible believing “Creationists”, like Williams, have a logical answer, that perfectly fits the data, as much as many might dislike it because it’s “non-scientific”: The genome was created perfect, but decay and death were introduced after the Fall.

  35. 35
    PaulN says:

    I’m with Domoman on this one. Every intelligently designed mechanism has its fail-safes. Heck, if it weren’t for the implementation of the fail safe mechanisms in the first place, then we probably would have been degenerated to amorphous blobs by now. Do I believe the evidence supports a degenerating genome? Yes, accumulations of mutations tend to have negative effects, but not to the extent of disrepair, as we’ve seen with the radio-active fruit fly research. The populations normalized back to their original state after being subjected to grossly accelerated mutation rates.

  36. 36
    DaveScot says:

    PaulN

    The average tenure of a species is about 10my. Most of them (99.9%) die out without spawning any new species. If this wasn’t the case we’d have an estimated 5 billion different species alive today. The best explanation for this IMO is genetic entropy. The big question isn’t why species go extinct. It’s why a precious few live on.

  37. 37
    DaveScot says:

    re; evolution is smarter than you are

    Perhaps. Something is smarter than we are, that’s for sure. A problem arises however in that organic evolution didn’t fine tune the universe. Perhaps you’re not aware but one of the biggest problems in physics is that if the entire universe contained more or less matter/energy than that in a single grain of sand (I kid you not) then it would have either collapsed before stars and planets could form or it would have inflated too fast for stars and planets to form. ID is one of a very short list of possibilities for how this could happen. That’s one chance out of 10^60. There is no known law of physics or theory that demands any specific amount of matter/energy be present in the universe. Either we’re here by design or we’re beyond absurdly lucky.

  38. 38
    jerry says:

    We have had this discussion before. Extinction could be the result of normal Darwinian processes winnowing down the gene pool of a population till it finds an environment it cannot handle. Then it goes extinct.

    This does not mean that every population goes extinct but it could mean there is not enough variation in the gene pool of a particular population to handle the new variation.

    But extinction is not what Williams thesis is about. I am not sure what it is about other to say that the genome is incredibly more complex than anything we imagined and then he makes the non sequitur of introducing Sanford which has nothing to do with the complexity argument of the first part of his paper.

  39. 39
    blurt says:

    But, what if the Big Bang Theory is wrong?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_cosmology

  40. 40
    nullasalus says:

    Davescot,

    Do you have a reference for the ‘grain of sand’ thing? I don’t doubt you, but I’ve heard this before and want to read more about it.

    Also, I’d agree with you on the ‘beyond absurdly lucky’ thing. So often I hear people talk about how if there were no designer, evolution is exactly what we’d expect. My response is always, no – evolution and what we see in natural history is what we’d see if there was a designer in play. With no designer, it’s far more reasonable that there’d be nada. No OoL, no simple life, no simple life developing into more complex life, no prospects for any of these things.

  41. 41
    jerry says:

    I meant “to handle the new environment.”

  42. 42
    jerry says:

    This guy also invokes “facilitated variation” which has some high powered people behind it from Harvard and Berkeley. Have we ever discussed it?

  43. 43
    uoflcard says:

    To #31, #32 (Domoman) and #34 (PaulN) – You are speaking on strictly theological grounds. Just be aware of that. As a Christian, a brilliantly complex but degenerative genome fits precisely with Scripture. God created a perfect world, man sinned and fell, as did our perfection.

    On the other hand, a brilliantly complex genome (degenerative or not) is definitely not compatible with neo-Darwinism

  44. 44
    uoflcard says:

    Seriously, does someone have a link to a Darwinian response to any of the ENCODE project’s findings? I have a feeling the typical response will be what is discussed in the CommonDreams.org posted earlier by William Dembski. That is, as much as they rant and rave about “real science” and “falsifiability” and “lab results”, and also madly promote anything they could even remotely spin as evidence for their theory, they will just ignore anything that conflicts w/ it, even if it is a multi-billion dollar, decade-long study, arguably one of the most important in the history of biology

  45. 45
    Borne says:

    A couple of comments seem to trash Sanford’s genetic entropy conclusions but his conclusions are still right imo.

    If he’s any where near the “ball park” the human race is indeed doomed as are all other species – sooner or later doesn’t change that and if he’s right about entropy it will indeed be sooner than later.

    When I first looked at this article I thought Dave had flipped his wig or else I’m a lot more ignorant of the science involved than I thought. Phew.

    Interestingly, the Hebrew of Genesis can be rendered “dying you will die” – apply that to the race and that’s genetic entropy in a tiny nutshell.

  46. 46
    Upright BiPed says:

    Dave et al,

    I have read the paper and looked elsewhere for supporting information.

    I am unsure about the use of the word “code” in this paper.

    Loosely, a code is meaning that is passed between discreet objects by means of a channel.

    Does that apply to these findings?

  47. 47
    jerry says:

    The paper by Williams is a YEC paper so I would take some the claims with a grain of salt. I would like to know which are supported some place else. Some are very interesting.

    He has written another later paper where he takes a concept developed by Kirschner and Gerhart called “facilitated variation” and discusses it. Since we do not have access to this paper, maybe we can eventually see what he says there. For example, is he using Kirschner and Gerhart’s idea of facilitated evolution to explain the swift divergence of species at some recent time in the past? Kirschner and Gerhart I believe, hypothesize that the genome consists of a set of modules like lego blocks just waiting to be assembled when the proper time comes along and this is how new complex capabilities are introduced into a species.

    We should discuss Kirschner and Gerhart’s theory some day since they claim their ideas obviate ID where traditional Darwinian ideas do not.

  48. 48
    jerry says:

    Kirschner was one of the Altenberg 16. Does anyone know what came of that conference?

  49. 49
    DaveScot says:

    null

    Here’s the critical reference – the fine tuning of the cosmological constant is one part in 10^59.

    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmo_03.htm

    Thus the density 1 ns after the Big Bang was set to an accuracy of better than 1 part in 447 sextillion. Even earlier it was set to an accuracy better than 1 part in 10^59!

    I couldn’t quickly find a non-subscription reference to the total number of baryons in the universe but it’s calculable and conserved at roughly 10^80. There are approximately 10^21 baryons in a grain of sand although this is going to vary by a couple orders of magnitude as sand comes in varying grades from coarse to fine but that’s close enough to make the point nonetheless. So the mass of the universe can be fairly said to be the same as 10^59 grains of sand, give or take.

    So the critical mass of the universe is set at plus or minus one grain of sand. Incomprehensibly finely tuned. And that’s just one of the finely tuned constants. It’s the most finely tuned but there’s a score of them that have to be within 1 part in 10^20 otherwise the universe would not exist in a state that could support organic life.

  50. 50
    Domoman says:

    YEC could be off on certain things, but at least they’re better on biology when it comes to some aspects. For instance, genetic entropy supports YEC and ID while suggesting neo-Darwinism is false. Whether or not their off on suggesting the Earth is so young may be another thing, although I’m willing to suggest they could be onto something. I’m not necessarily persuaded either way, but I do lean, at least for the sake of argument, towards an old Earth. (After all, if it turns out the Earth is less than a million years old than evolution is essentially screwed anyway. Better to prove neo-Darwinism wrong using their own assumptions.)

    uoflcard,

    To #31, #32 (Domoman) and #34 (PaulN) – You are speaking on strictly theological grounds. Just be aware of that. As a Christian, a brilliantly complex but degenerative genome fits precisely with Scripture. God created a perfect world, man sinned and fell, as did our perfection.

    On the other hand, a brilliantly complex genome (degenerative or not) is definitely not compatible with neo-Darwinism

    Actually my statements could be suggested even without invoking theology. If a certain organism could not have evolved from a lower organism, and is degrading, it follows logically that it was created, initially, in a better, less degenerated (perhaps even perfect), state of existence. I do admit that my thoughts on this were brought up based on theology, but they do not solely rely on theology, and such a conclusion can be arrived at simply using science and logic.

  51. 51
    Domoman says:

    DaveScot,

    There’s a fine-tuned property of the universe (might even be what you’re talking about) that if it were moved one inch to the left or the right (in comparison to a ruler that stretched across the entire known universe) life could not exist. Pretty cool, huh?

    Another one, the “original-phase space” property, has been suggested to be as fine-tuned as 1 in 10,000,000,000^123 (yes, that is ten billion to the 123rd power or 10^10^123). That’s so incomprehensibly huge as to be unfathomable!

  52. 52
    steveO says:

    Meanwhile, from the hollow world of Darwinism, more shrill echoes:

    Evolutionary theory has been dramatically validated by molecular biology. It is important that the general public, and in particular pupils, hear and understand this message (see http://www.nature.com/evolutiongems
    for a sample of scientific papers that illustrate and buttress evolutionary theory). Redressing the current imbalance between increasingly well organized and vociferous religious fundamentalists peddling creationism,and scientists, who all too often disregard the need for further publicity and support for what is, after all, the best supported theory in biology,
    should be high on the agenda of every scientist and science teacher. Why not make this a New Year’s resolution for 2009, Darwin’s year.

    Editorial quote from Nature Cell Biology, Feb 09

  53. 53
    uoflcard says:

    btw, here is a blog post and subsequent set of comments on pandas thumb a year and 1/2 ago on this very subject.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....ent-panels

    Basically the response is “not only is the apparent ‘usefulness’ of ‘junk’ DNA false, it actually even junkier than we though! junk creating more junk!” It’s really a brilliant strategy…it just bypasses denial and goes straight to cold-blooded lying. That keeps the focus on merky arguments about what is transcibed and why that “might” be so, and ignores the more intriguing part of all of the discoveries from ENCODE, like the duplicate (several times over) use of parts of DNA, or the concept of meta-information in the human genome.

    In the comments, one Darwinist-doubter posts rebuttal, and the majority of the responses are “ignore him and he’ll go away”, “don’t ignore him that makes us look bad”, “another creationist meme”, etc.

  54. 54
    uoflcard says:

    Domoman:

    Actually my statements could be suggested even without invoking theology. If a certain organism could not have evolved from a lower organism, and is degrading, it follows logically that it was created, initially, in a better, less degenerated (perhaps even perfect), state of existence. I do admit that my thoughts on this were brought up based on theology, but they do not solely rely on theology, and such a conclusion can be arrived at simply using science and logic.

    I was talking about this statement of yours:

    If an intelligence is intelligent enough to make the genome, I see no reason that it would also not be intelligent enough to make it damage resistant.

    Perhaps I took it the wrong way (or maybe I got it right; you tell me). It seemed to me you were saying that because the genome is not damage resistant, and an entity that was intelligent enough to create a complex, functional genome would probably also be intelligent enough to make it damage resistant, then that proves an intelligence was not involved in the creation of the genome. Perhaps this last assumption of mine was not warranted. If so, forgive me. It reminded me of a frequent, clueless anti-ID argument by naturalists that goes something like these:

    “Why would your ‘good’ god create immune systems?”

    “You say the flagellum is evidence of ID. But most viruses use flagella to move and survive. So you’re saying your ‘good’ god create the mechanism to kill billions of people pointlessly, including infant children.”

    …basically, completely theological arguments that have nothing to do with science, biology, evolution, ID, darwinism, etc.

  55. 55
    Mark Frank says:

    SteveO [50] – nice reference

    uoflcard [51]
    “it just bypasses denial and goes straight to cold-blooded lying”

    Where in the post does the author say something that is not true?

  56. 56
    DaveScot says:

    Just an FYI – I don’t necessarily agree with Williams’ conclusions about the age of the earth or special creation but the collection and description of the various codes and mechanisms purposely swirling in and around the metazoan DNA molecule was the best I’ve read in the way of giving a clear idea of the astonishing complexity therein.

    The gene centric theory likely accounts for a good portion of the workings of prokaryotes but it’s just a pimple on an elephant’s ass when it comes to accounting for the workings of more complex organisms. I think there’s a lot more going on than Sanford et al believe too. Special creation in the recent geologic past just doesn’t square with observations of non-biological processes that have been going on far longer everywhere from sedimentation and erosion to the life cycles of stars and the motions of galaxies. Far too many observations fit neatly together for life, our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe itself being billions of years old. The contrivations required to cast any doubt on these ages collectively become ludicrous. The contrivations required to dispute common descent run a close second place in the lack of credibility department. Clearly though the big accident theory of creation doesn’t pass the giggle test anymore either. Methodological naturalism giveth and methodological naturalism taketh away. It took away our simple creation stories that have endured for thousands of years but at the same time it gave us confirmation that purposeful creation did indeed happen. The universe and our presence in it is clearly by design. If we are true to our nature as rational beings we must go where the evidence leads even when it leads us away from where we desire and that applies to theists and atheists alike.

  57. 57
    DaveScot says:

    Upright

    Codes are abstractions used to pass information from transmitters to receivers. Both transmitter and receiver must “know” the code in order to encapsulate for transmission and unencapsulate the information for subsequent use. The only known instances of codes are those invented by humans, like the morse code (which btw is quite similar to the genetic code) and those codes that are employed inside living things. Nothing else in nature employs codes which makes the machinery of life essentially different from other mechanistic processes that move matter and energy around in predictable ways.

  58. 58
    jerry says:

    Dave,

    My question about Williams is how much of what he says is accurate and how much is speculation. Since he invokes Kirschner and Sanford at the end I started to doubt the rest of the presentation. I know some of the beginning is standard biology but how much of that afterwards is an accurate portrayal or some stretching of what has been found.

    For example, he says

    “The problem of using the same code to produce many different functional transcripts means that DNA cannot be endlessly mutable, as neo-Darwinists assume. Most mutations are deleterious, so mutations in such a complex structure would quickly destroy many functions at once.”

    But then he invokes Sanford to say the genome is riddled with mutations. Which is it? Since I happen to think Sanford is nonsense, I will go with his earlier assessment but that does not mean that both could be wrong.

    It is interesting stuff and not something I totally understand. And it probably won’t be in any textbook for quite awhile. Maybe some readers may have thoughts about what is accurate or not.

    The new commenter, eintown, had an interesting comment. All it takes is variation in one gene to initiate potential selection. So 5% of the genome is a whole lot of material to be subject to selection. So while selection may be an absurd reason for the origin of the complexity in the genome, it does not mean that other parts of it are not subject to selection.

    By the way Kirschner’s ideas while purporting to be totally naturalistic and anti ID, sounds a little bit like front loading. I have not yet seen a clear write up of it but it sounds like he is hypothesizing that a lot of the genome consists of lego like units that are waiting for the right cues to rearrange themselves into a different body plan or systems. Like all naturalistic scenarios, empirical data seems to be rare or totally absent.

  59. 59
    Domoman says:

    Uoflcard,

    I was talking about this statement of yours:

    If an intelligence is intelligent enough to make the genome, I see no reason that it would also not be intelligent enough to make it damage resistant.

    Perhaps I took it the wrong way (or maybe I got it right; you tell me). It seemed to me you were saying that because the genome is not damage resistant, and an entity that was intelligent enough to create a complex, functional genome would probably also be intelligent enough to make it damage resistant, then that proves an intelligence was not involved in the creation of the genome. Perhaps this last assumption of mine was not warranted. If so, forgive me. It reminded me of a frequent, clueless anti-ID argument by naturalists that goes something like these:

    “Why would your ‘good’ god create immune systems?”

    “You say the flagellum is evidence of ID. But most viruses use flagella to move and survive. So you’re saying your ‘good’ god create the mechanism to kill billions of people pointlessly, including infant children.”

    …basically, completely theological arguments that have nothing to do with science, biology, evolution, ID, darwinism, etc.

    Oh, wow, I didn’t realize you misunderstood me like that. I’m completely in support of ID. I was saying that:

    If an intelliegent being was intelligent enough to create the genome, then I’m pretty sure it would also make it damage-resistant.

    I was trying to counter the two ideas that a) the genome is so finely-tuned that it could not handle any damage done to it and b) the genome obviously can take a lot of damage so therefore must not be mostly junk and/or not designed.

    I was suggesting that, like any person who designs a finely-tuned and integrated system that it is often times damage-resistant as well. I was suggesting that the genome while obviously fine-tuned and designed, is not so complex that if it was damaged it would be destroyed.

    Basically, to put it clearly: whoever/whatever designed the genome , while making it very sophisticated and complex, also made it damage resistant (to mutations and any other damaging causes).

    Hopefully that’s more clearly stated. 🙂

  60. 60
    Domoman says:

    *EDIT*

    I was trying to counter the two ideas that a) the genome is so finely-tuned that it could not handle any damage done to it and b) the genome obviously can take a lot of damage so therefore must not be mostly junk and/or not designed.

    I accidently put a “not” in the above paragraph, giving the wrong impression. It should read:

    I was trying to counter the two ideas that a) the genome is so finely-tuned that it could not handle any damage done to it and b) the genome obviously can take a lot of damage so therefore must be mostly junk and/or not designed.

  61. 61
    jerry says:

    Here is another concept that gets very little discussion here. The objectives of the designer may be much more insightful than anything we could come up with.

    For example, the designer might not want each organism to live forever so there must be some defect/design in the genome to ensure this.

    The designer might want new organisms to have the capability to adapt to new situations. So one way that could happen is to make the genome somehow malleable to new situations which may mean that it has to change over time. So the designer might design the genome to change over time. We have a name for that and it is called evolution. Maybe one of the ways the designer wants the genome to change over time are the 47 engines of variation that Allen MacNeill has developed. Maybe the structure and error correction of the genome is designed to let a small number of changes happen and is a design feature and not a bug. In other words evolution or change over time is a built in objective.

    The designer might want an organism to exist with different types of other organisms because an organism may need to metabolize the other organism or the organisms are needed to change an environment to meet the need of the organism in question. There is a science which studies this and is called ecology. So every organism must be designed with the ecology in mind. This means putting limitations on each organism so that it doesn’t change/evolve too much so that it dominates and ecology and may actually destroy the ecology and itself by being “all that it can be.” So there are probably limits on evolution built into each organism.

    And there may be timings for certain types of organisms. The earth has changed dramatically since its inception and not all organisms could survive till it changed considerably. So maybe there is a timing in the introduction of species. There is a theory that earth worms were needed in the pre Cambrian to churn up the rocks so that the rocks would behave differently to tectonic pressures. We know little about timing but it is being studied more and more. And who knows it might also reveal the designer.

    And there may be other good reasons for so called sub optimal design in an organism.

    Those whose only defense against ID is poor design may not be able to see the forrest for the trees and the so called poor design is just a level of design which we cannot fathom.

  62. 62
    damitall says:

    Rock-churning earthworms?

  63. 63
    PaulN says:

    Or perhaps the original genome design was the equivalent of a brand spankin new car, and has seen some wear over the years which brings us to the present. Just because it’s possible to perceive our current modern day design as flawed (Which means you would have to take the still intact incredibly complex aspects of that design and utterly dismiss them), doesn’t mean it wasn’t pristine in the past. Making statements congruent with uniformitarianism will get us nowhere when we see such great evidence of a gradually deteriorating genome.

    I mean just humor me for a minute and imagine that cars could have offspring. Imagine that a miniscule portion of the bits of rust and wear that the car has seen over the years would carry over to the next generation. Without regular maintenance during the lifespan of each generation, you’d have such an accumulation of defects that various functions of the car would be hindered (a real life example of this would be certain fish losing the ability to see).

    There are obvious limitations to my analogy, seeing as cars don’t have complex mechanisms in place to carry out maintenance and repairs autonomously like our body and cells do. But just the fact that our body and cells DO have these mechanisms signifies a once perfect system in my mind, which has itself been subject to deteriorating factors over many generations, hence why some mutations and defects fly under the radar of said reparation system.

    As far as natural selection goes, I do agree with Williams on this, it does often times seem that the only defects that can be selected for or against are those that have a make-or-break effect on survival and replication. I say this because you see examples such as an entire tribe in Africa (known as the “Ostrich People”) that only have two toes as a result of a long history of inbreeding. The effect of the accumulative negative mutations are significant but have not completely broken their capability to survive and reproduce, obviously.

    I hope no one here thinks I’m a whackaloon for agreeing with Williams, but it’s what I see as the best possible explanation (albeit not the only possible one).

  64. 64
    Dave Wisker says:

    Hi jerry,

    There is a theory that earth worms were needed in the pre Cambrian to churn up the rocks so that the rocks would behave differently to tectonic pressures.

    Could you point me to a link or journal reference for this theory? Thanks.

  65. 65
    DaveScot says:

    Jerry

    Sanford acknowledges that most mutations are near neutral. What if they’re not just random copy errors but are actually some kind of purposeful change? As astonishingly complex as this is turning out to be I’d be astonished if the code isn’t self-modifying.

    I said I didn’t necessarily agree with Williams’ conclusions. What impressed me was the tour-de-force presentation of all the recently discovered complexity that makes the old gene centric theory so woefully inadequate in complex metazoans. Gene centric theory is probably most of the story for prokaryotes and maybe even simple single celled eukaryotes but it’s not even the tip of the iceberg for things like mammals.

  66. 66
    Upright BiPed says:

    Dave #57

    I follow completely, which was the point of my post. The nucleic code is a code, is a code. Passing data from one object to another through a channel (transcription/translation).

    However, this paper suggest as many as four additional “codes” (cell memory code, differentiation code, etc) that I do not see reaching that bar.

    Complex? yes.

    Unfathomable? yes.

    Code? not so much.

  67. 67
    DaveScot says:

    Upright

    I believe Williams is implying these are codes that have yet to be deciphered. I just did a quick check on the first one and he’s not making up terms that aren’t used in the trade rags.

    Cellular memory and the histone code.
    Turner BM.
    Chromatin and Gene Expression Group, Anatomy Department, University of Birmingham Medical School, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom.

    The histone tails on the nucleosome surface are subject to enzyme-catalyzed modifications that may, singly or in combination, form a code specifying patterns of gene expression. Recent papers provide insights into how a combinatorial code might be set and read. They show how modification of one residue can influence that of another, even when they are located on different histones, and how modifications at specific genomic locations might be perpetuated on newly assembled chromatin.

  68. 68
    jerry says:

    I got the worms wrong. It was sandwiched in between a discussion of plate tectonics and climate and a summation of a lecture. But it is equally interesting. They did not affect plate tectonics but atmospheric temperature.

    The worms may have (and I use the word “may” to indicate this is speculation) have churned up marine sediment thus releasing methane and other gasses into the atmosphere. Essentially they were creating a greenhouse effect and causing temperature changes and effecting the ice on the planet. Before this, the oceans were frozen over much of the time.

    The thing about the worms was a small part of a long set of lectures on climate in a Teaching Company course called “How the Earth Works.” The lectures on glaciers, ice ages and different climates in general is quite complicated and I am having to watch each lecture on climate 2-3 times to pick up everything. I usually do it while on a treadmill so I often am not paying full attention.

    It is very interesting and so far nothing to do with humans but that is coming. Climate is quite cyclical and the current warming period we have had for the last 10,000 years is infrequent. Most of the time it is much colder.

    The references for the lectures that included this small segment on worms is

    “The Two-Mile Time Machine:Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future” by Richard B. Alley

    and

    “SNOWBALL EARTH” in Scientific American Jan 2000, vol 282-1 page 68.

    The Scientific American article did not contain anything about the worms so I assume it is in the Alley book

    One of the reasons I said this is speculative is because there is little fossil evidence there was other multi-cellular life for them to churn up in the pre Cambrian. But it makes fascinating stories.

  69. 69
    Davem says:

    Mats – 16
    I liked LGF also until CJ went on his pro-Darwin crusade, lumping together creationism and ID.

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