The circus is in town; the creationist calliope is wheezing away again

There's a very good reason I reposted an old reply to a creationist today. It's from 2004, way back shortly after I'd started this blog, and it addresses in simple terms the question of how ordinary biological mechanisms can produce an increase in information. I brought it up because Casey Luskin is whining again. He says the "Darwinists" have not answered any of the questions Michael Egnor, their pet credentialed creationist du jour, has asked.

Yet for all their numbers and name-calling, not a single one has answered Egnor's question: How does Darwinian mechanisms [sic] produce new biological information?

Isn't it obvious that we have answered the question, repeatedly, for years and years? That the answer is plainly stated in any college-level genetics textbook you might be able to pull off the shelf? We answer, we repeat the answer, we rephrase the answer, we've got a whole damn chorus of biologically informed people singing the answer at them, and the creationists just babble back, obliviously, "We can't heeeeeeear youuuuu!"

Look, I've pointed out Luskin's own embarrassing incompetence at basic genetics before; there are mechanisms operating in genetics that make duplication of genes and the concommitant increase of information in the genome routine. I've traced the origin of bicoid and zerknüllt to a duplication of Hox3, for instance, and I've described how genes, such as Wnt, are found in gene families, the product of duplications over evolutionary history. I've shown how Hox genes arose by duplications; seriously, how can anyone look at the serial chain of Hox genes and their phylogenetic distribution, and the fact that vertebrates have 4 sets of Hox genes, and not recognize their source in gene duplication, and not see that as a change in complexity over evolutionary time? We can go further and look at synteny, or the conserved order of sequences in the genome, and see that there is an explicable pattern of change, one that is explained by common genetic and evolutionary processes, and does not fit the design hypothesis (except in the sense that the design hypothesis is so uselessly vague that you can make any observation fit it).

Luskin actually asks two questions.

…two questions remain: (1) Why is such name-calling so common among Darwinists? and (2) How do Darwinian mechanisms produce truly novel biological information? I've seen no good answers to question 2, and perhaps their lack of such a good answer is driving the observations behind question (1).

We've answered question #2 many, many times as I've mentioned. The creationists like Luskin, Egnor, and many others obtusely resist paying any attention, ignore the scientific literature, and act like stupid little children when they are confronted with the evidence … which, I think, goes a long way towards answering #1. That creationist calliope is awfully repetitive and out of tune, excuse us if we are more than a little tired of the noise. Maybe if they actually had some respect and knowledge of the biological sciences they are abusing, and if they didn't persist in lying and misrepresenting the facts, we wouldn't be so pissed off with them.