Jerry built


From the early edition of PNAS“Footprints of nonsentient design inside the human genome”:

Intelligent design (ID)—the latest incarnation of religious creationism—posits that complex biological features did not accrue gradually via natural evolutionary forces but, instead, were crafted ex nihilo by a cognitive agent. Yet, many complex biological traits are gratuitously complicated, function poorly, and debilitate their bearers. Furthermore, such dysfunctional traits abound not only in the phenotypes but inside the genomes of eukaryotic species. Here, I highlight several outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent. These range from de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and fetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome. Gross imperfection at the molecular level presents a conundrum for the traditional paradigms of natural theology as well as for recent assertions of ID, but it is consistent with the notion of nonsentient contrivance by evolutionary forces. In this important philosophical sense, the science of evolutionary genetics should rightly be viewed as an ally (not an adversary) of mainstream religions because it helps the latter to escape the profound theological enigmas posed by notions of ID.

This last bit seems incoherent and unnecessary.


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3 Responses to “Jerry built”

  1. creationbydesign Says:

    Fascinating theological article in the National Academy of Sciences publication. Apparently, evolutionary scientists have developed theories on “how God would have done it”. I suppose, Mr. Avise has tested ID concepts and has determined that imperfection in the architecture of biological features argue against the involvement of an intelligent agent. Certainly that would be a very good task for science to determine — namely, “what would indicate the involvement of God in nature and do we find evidence of that”? First, science could determine the nature of God and how He communicates that nature in biology. This would help with further testing.

    Mr. Avise states:
    [ID] posits that complex biological features did not accrue gradually via natural evolutionary forces but, instead, were crafted ex nihilo by a cognitive agent

    Of course, this is false but don’t know if we can expect much better from a peer reviewed evolutionary journal. ID does not posit the ex nihilo creation of features.

    But Mr. Avise’s mistake in that statement caused him to conclude that evidence for the work of an intelligent agent means that the “designed features” must be flawless. But the fact that he is addressing this issue at all is a problem for hiw (and PNAS’s) evolutionary claims since it should be simple enough to point to the solid evidence that molecular machines and genetic information are the products of Darwinian processes.

    But it’s obvious that he can’t do that. So, the next best thing is to attack a straw-man of the ID concept and claim that “God wouldn’t do it that way”. That brings us back to 19th century science and the exact theological speculations that Mr. Darwin made.

    Nothing like injecting religious views into one’s scientific claims, right?

  2. Nick Says:

    I’ve let that comment through because by publishing this entry I was asking for it, really. But no more “debating” creationism will happen on this blog.

  3. Nick Says:

    Besides, right now the responsibility of all good creationists is dealing with the news that 1-4% of our ancestry is Neandertal.

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