Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Is it Junk or isn't it?...

Ed at Dispatches has responded to my post A Test for Testability. Before I respond I should clarify that I am not a scientist. The intent of my posts on science related topics is not to provide a detailed analysis of the scientific data but, rather, to provide a summary analysis of current discoveries in the scientific realm. Another intention of my writing is to show how the philosophy of naturalism affects the interpretation of data within the scientific community. That said, there may be some skeptics out there that will immediately cry foul and accuse me of skirting the meat of the issues at hand. They are certainly entitled to their opinions. As a point of clarification to Ed’s response let me re-quote the testable prediction that I (and not Reasons to Believe) stated:
Further research will reveal function for so-called Junk-DNA sequences. Although considered by evolutionists to be a closed case, the Creation Model predicts that currently held scientific opinion on this issue will eventually concede that function is inherent in the Junk-DNA sequence. The failure of this test would be a devastating, if not killer, blow to the Creation Model.
Note that I did not state that there should be 100% function in the DNA code with no regards to potential errors in the code. Am I back-pedaling? No, and here’s why. Ed must surely understand that we live in a world with certain laws of physics and that one of the results of those laws of physics is that systems will break-down. Mutations are a part of the natural order we exist in. I would no more expect function in a broken piece of DNA code than I would expect function in a broken piece of code for MS Word. However, if analysis is done on a pure genome (i.e., no errors in coding) then yes, I would expect 100% functionality. Ed has presented a good deal of evidence that posits that the supposed Junk-DNA sequences evolved and mutated into the functionality we see today. That’s nice, but if pressed I could find evidence to the contrary. What ends up happening is that I find scientists who disagree with the conclusions of the scientists that Ed references. I suspect this will happen in his upcoming response to my claim regarding the merits of irreducible complexity: The evolutionist side presents someone like Ken Miller refuting Michael Behe, then the ID side presents Michael Behe refuting Ken Miller’s refutation, then the evolutionist side presents Ken Miller refuting Michael Behe’s refutation of Ken Miller’s refutation, and so forth and so on. Not being a scientist myself I will not attempt to address the specific issues that the likes of Miller and Behe (and Ed, for that matter) bring up. One can search www.talkorigins.org or http://www.idurc.org/ and read for themselves the debates that go on between these scientists. Suffice it to say that the initial response of the evolutionary community to the concept of Junk-DNA sequences was that it was expected in the evolutionary paradigm. Hit and miss mutations, with no anticipated goal, should produce a bunch of junk along with some function – according to neo-Darwinian evolution. Yet, according to Ed’s post, we now know of function to various forms of so-called Junk-DNA:
So what we're left with is this. A sizable portion of the genome is made up of pseudogenes, which are produced through processes that we've observed, and which are explainable only through evolution. A sizable portion of it is made up of transposable elements that help drive evolution by providing mutations that can be preserved through natural selection. And a sizable portion of it is made up of just random repetitive sequences, which Paul Myers says results from the fact that "the polymerase 'stutters' as it is making copies of long stretches of repeated stuff." And all told there is about 49 times more of that stuff than there is of active DNA.
Here we hearken back to the post I did on Evolutionary Just-So Stories. Evolutionists love to accuse Creationists of appealing to a God who can do whatever He wants, thereby allowing any evidence to be evidence for Creation. Yet here is an example of the evolutionists (in general - not Ed specifically) pulling the old switch-a-roo. “Junk-DNA?... Sure! It’s what we’d expect from evolution through chance mutations.” vs. “You found some function?... Sure! It’s what we’d expect from evolution since we observe mutations occurring real-time.” What we end up with is the use of self-referential logic. Essentially it is stated that we know that mutations can evolve functional Junk-DNA because we see mutations occurring in DNA sequences. Finally, tracking back to the issue of testability and “finding function for every single bit of this stuff” (i.e., so-called Junk-DNA), I will leave that to Ed for that is not what I am stating. Understanding how to detect design in conjunction with intentions and attributes is the issue here. If the percentage of functional so-called Junk-DNA is now at 3% (just to grab a number) and next year it rises to 5%, and the next to 10%, well I think that Ed understands the implications of the trend-line - and that is the point. Whether he will admit to it is another story.

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