Another junk DNA denialist on a tirade

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On Pharyngula, PZ Myers shows how Intelligent Design continues to be a scientifically vacuous concept.

Desperate to show that evolution can be detrimental to scientific inquiry, ID proponents have been arguing not only that junk dna was a prediction by ID, a statement which is logically flawed, but also that evolution and particularly Darwinism was the reason why people called non-coding DNA and pseudogenes ‘junk’.

The latter assertion has been more than once corrected on this blog but it seems that ID remains dogmatic in its claims, unable to learn from its own mistakes.

The same applies to the creationist understanding of the meaning of vestigial which they somehow believe to be equivalent to ‘no function’.

Wikipedia explains:

Vestigiality describes homologous characters of organisms which have lost all or most of their original function in a species through evolution.

Original function…

As PZ Myers points out Junk DNA was a concept that arose out of the concept of neutral evolution. In fact, Darwinian theory would expect non-functional DNA to not be conserved in any form or manner. But that’s not where our poor ID proponent stops, he then continues to argue that:

I’m not big into counting genes, especially as regulatory regions (you know - “Junk DNA”) seem to be as important as the genes themselves.

However anyone familiar with the history of genetics would know that regulatory genes were never considered to be Junk DNA. How wrong can one be?

Is this truly the best ID has to offer? In that case it should be self evident that teaching the controversy becomes nothing more than a mindless repetition of past ignorant claims of creationists who had little respect for history.

Let this be a warning to educators and parents foolish enough to promote the teaching of ‘alternative theories’ of evolution or ‘controversies’ in evolutionary theory.

It’s also not true that science ignored junk DNA, in fact as this posting points out science has been studying Junk DNA for quite some time and in doing so discovered novel potential roles for some Junk DNA.

And finally for those interested in more on this topic, read Larry Moran’s contributions and be sure to follow the links in the article. Poor Larry has been busy correcting many misconceptions by ID proponents on this topic. Seems he will not likely be out of a job soon… Larry also notes how Bill Dembski got it all wrong. Perhaps Dembski’s flawed comments have caused the present case of ID ignorance?

Such is the contribution of ID to science, more ignorance.

Larry Moran Wrote:
Dembski Wrote:

I suspect that the “junk DNA” hypothesis was originally made on explicitly Darwinian grounds. Can someone provide chapter and verse? Clearly, in the absence of the Darwinian interpretation, the default assumption would have been that repetitive nucleotide sequences must have some unknown function.

Fortunately, there are some smart people who post comments on Uncommon Descent. They have told Bill that the concept of junk DNA is explicitly non-Darwinian. It was proposed by scientists who didn’t feel the need to explain everything as an adaptation.

I don’t know how many times we’ve explained to Bill that not all evolutionary biologists are “Darwinists.” I know I first told him four years ago but I’m sure there were others before me. He seems to be a very slow learner.

It seems that Dembski may not be the only slow learner here.

1 TrackBack

Instructing on Junk DNA from blue collar scientist on January 24, 2008 3:37 PM

The Panda’s Thumb summarizes some discussion that is occurring on various science blogs lately, a result of a new instance of the old intelligent design creationist ignorance about junk DNA. The discussion makes pretty clear that historically the... Read More


Wikipedia explains:

Vestigiality describes homologous characters of organisms which have lost all or most of their original function in a species through evolution.

Uh, would you mind trying that again? I typed “vestigial” into Wikipedia and got this entry, which starts with the sentence you quoted but goes on to say:

Vestigial structures are often called vestigial organs, although many of them are not actually organs. These are typically in a degenerate, atrophied, or rudimentary condition,[1] and tend to be much more variable than similar parts. Although structures usually called “vestigial” are largely or entirely functionless, a vestigial structure may retain lesser functions or develop minor new ones.[2] However, care must be taken not to apply the label of vestigiality to exaptations, in which a structure originally used for one purpose is modified for a new one. For example, the wings of penguin would not be vestigial, as they have been modified for a substantial new purpose (underwater locomotion), while those of an emu would be, as they have no major purpose anymore (not even for display as in ostriches).

[emphasis added]

In other words, the creationists’ failure regarding vestigial features is not one of outright lying-by-redefinition. It is (as usual for them) one of failing to have a sufficiently deep understanding of what they’re looking at.

Perhaps I’m just slow on the uptake, but why would someone who believes in intelligent design be happy about the idea of “junk” DNA?

“Nyah, nyah, we disproved evolution! We’re actually created by a god who filled us full of useless shit!”

I just don’t get it.

(P.S., the “useless shit” is IDers interpretation of Junk DNA, not mine–there’s no need to correct me.)

What, when did IDers start saying that “junk” DNA was predicted by their “hypothesis”? In the arguments that I’ve noticed before now they typically claimed that ID implied all DNA would be functional. (Never mind that “evolutionists” expected that as well prior to the discovery that some DNA had no apparent function.)


You said:

ID proponents have been arguing … that junk dna was a prediction by ID

Actually it’s just the opposite.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on January 23, 2008 10:34 PM.

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