Citing sections of a recent publication in Cell1 , Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute claims to have new evidence that confirms the predictions of their Intelligent Design hypothesis. Luskin has done this in the past when researchers have found new functions in DNA.
The promoters of ID claim that their hypothesis predicts the discovery of new functionality and complexity in DNA. They claim this points to a designer and that Darwin was wrong. Really? Neither Darwin, nor any other expert on evolution, nor the theory of evolution has ever claimed that we have discovered all the complexity in DNA, and that we would not discover new codons that determine how proteins and mRNA are regulated. Darwin actually predicted the existence of genetic material such as DNA would be required for natural selection to work.
In the new article, Casey Luskin, a lawyer, uses a classic straw man argument claiming:
Now even if these methods worked, they still don’t mean we know how new genes evolve. In fact, these kinds of studies often claim to detect natural selection in a gene when they can’t even say what the gene does! So clearly no stepwise explanation of how a gene evolves is being provided.
In other words, he falsely states that for natural selection to work we have to know what every gene sequence does, and how it evolved step by step. The theory of evolution does not depend on our knowledge of every codon in DNA, or every enzyme that has ever evolved.
In fact it has been known for years that parts of the 97% of DNA that was originally thought of as junk DNA, is actually involved in regulatory functions. Haig H. Kazazian, Jr., chairman of genetics at the University of Pennysylvania has found reasons to suspect they may be a key force for the development of new species during evolution.
There are sequences in these elements that are similar to sequences in certain bacteria, so from an evolutionary point of view they are very old,” notes Dr. Haig H. Kazazian, Jr., chairman of genetics and senior author on the study. “And they have expanded in the last 50 million years or so, especially in mammals. We suspect they may be a key force for diversification during evolution–a mechanism, perhaps, for increasing the plasticity of the genome.
You only have to look at invasive species to see that natural selection can sometimes be opportunistic. Some of these enzyme may have evolved for entirely different reasons, but evolution is messy and new processes can have novel consequences that can be selected for or against. An article by Austin Cline describes how this ‘junk’ DNA is actually biochemical evidence of evolution:
Recent studies, however, lend strong support to the possibility that the seemingly useless repetitive DNA may actually play a number of important genetic roles, from providing a substrate on which new genes can evolve to maintaining chromosome structure and participating in some sort of genetic control. Consequently, it is now out of fashion among geneticists to refer to these parts of the genome as junk DNA, but rather as DNA of unknown function.
Cline actually predicted the claims that would be made by ID advocates, like the Discovery Institute:
Whenever it’s discovered that some sequence of junk DNA may serve some function, you may see creationists touting this as a demonstration that scientists don’t know what they are talking about and so can’t be trusted — after all, they were wrong in telling people that this DNA was “junk,” right? The truth is, though, that scientists have long known that junk DNA may do something.
The following video shows the ridiculousness of Luskin, a lawyer, proposing ID as science:
ID proponents have yet to predict something novel that can only be explained by ID. So far the theory of evolution satisfies all known discoveries without the added complexity of a designer that can not be tested or falsified. One of the tenets of a valid scientific theory is that it be falsifiable.
As described by intelligent design.org:
One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed.
So proof of intelligent design is anything that needs all its parts to work. Is there anyway to disprove ID. The short answer is no. Let’s expand on this.
The presence of an intelligent designer directing evolution, as proposed by the Discovery Institute, would be considered a new law of nature. ID’ers rely completely on dredging the data and literature for affirmation of their hypothesis, and would be better served with arguments or research attempting unsuccessfully to refute ID. This is one of the obvious indicators of pseudoscience. Obviously, there are no investigations trying to refute ID, because it is not falsifiable, and not science. It is religion and requires that one believes in it, and ignore science.
Luskin is a lawyer who is Out of Touch with both reality and science.
1 Vladimir Presnyak et al. , “Codon Optimality Is a Major Determinant of mRNA Stability,” Cell, Vol. 160: 1111-1124 (March 12, 2015).