Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Has the progress of science vindicated Mike Behe or Ken Miller?

ECM send me a couple of articles recently from Uncommon Descent and Evolution News that I wanted to write about.

The topic is Junk DNA, which is the name given by naturalists to the portions of the DNA code that do not code for proteins. Is Junk DNA really just leftover junk from a blind, purposeless process of fully naturalistic evolution? Or does it have a function, like intelligent design theorists say? Let’s put these predictions to the test and then update our worldviews to fit with the scientific evidence.

The prediction of Ken Miller

Anti-theistic biologist Ken Miller said in 1994 that DNA is filled with junk left over from naturalistic, random evolution:

…the designer made serious errors, wasting millions of bases of DNA on a blueprint full of junk and scribbles.

Ken Miller

One thing you have to like about Ken is that he manages to fit in some predictions along with his factually incorrect statements under oath.

The prediction of Michael Behe

Theistic biologist Michael Behe said in 2002 that DNA isn’t as junky some people think, because of the evidence:

As a public skeptic of the ability of Darwinian processes to account for complex cellular systems and a proponent of the hypothesis of intelligent design, (1) I often encounter a rebuttal that can be paraphrased as “no designer would have done it that way.” …
If at least some pseudogenes have unsuspected functions, however, might not other biological features that strike us as odd also have functions we have not yet discovered? Might even the backwards wiring of the vertebrate eye serve some useful purpose?
Hirotsune et al’s (3) work has forcefully shown that our intuitions about what is functionless in biology are not to be trusted.

Sincerely, Michael J. Behe
An Open Letter to Nature

Those are the two predictions.

So, what does the progress of science say to confirm one prediction or the other? Well, let’s see what Nature, the most prestigious peer-reviewed science journal, has to say.

In 1961, French biologists François Jacob and Jacques Monod proposed the idea that ‘regulator’ proteins bind to DNA to control the expression of genes. Five years later, American biochemist Walter Gilbert confirmed this model by discovering the lac repressor protein, which binds to DNA to control lactose metabolism in Escherichia colibacteria1. For the rest of the twentieth century, scientists expanded on the details of the model, but they were confident that they understood the basics. “The crux of regulation,” says the 1997 genetics textbook Genes VI (Oxford Univ. Press), “is that a regulator gene codes for a regulator protein that controls transcription by binding to particular site(s) on DNA.”

Just one decade of post-genome biology has exploded that view. Biology’s new glimpse at a universe of non-coding DNA — what used to be called ‘junk’ DNA — has been fascinating and befuddling. Researchers from an international collaborative project called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) showed that in a selected portion of the genome containing just a few per cent of protein-coding sequence, between 74% and 93% of DNA was transcribed into RNA2. Much non-coding DNA has a regulatory role; small RNAs of different varieties seem to control gene expression at the level of both DNA and RNA transcripts in ways that are still only beginning to become clear. “Just the sheer existence of these exotic regulators suggests that our understanding about the most basic things — such as how a cell turns on and off — is incredibly naive,” says Joshua Plotkin, a mathematical biologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

On the Evolution News post, pro-ID guy Rob Crowther writes:

…not that long ago, junk DNA was being defended as an important element of the Darwinian evolution paradigm… The question now seems to be whether Ayala, Dawkins, Collins, Falk and other junk DNA proponents will continue to defend junk DNA, whatever they call it?

The post by Rob Crowther has more information on this story.

If you are one of those people who thinks that naturalistic molecules-to-man evolution is as proved as is the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun, then check out the links below – ESPECIALLY the debates. Peter Atkins, Michael Shermer and Lewis Wolpert are some of the most prominent prominent proponents of naturalism and materialism out there. Watch the debates. Have an open mind. If science can be hijacked by global warmists, then it can be hijacked by evolutionists, too. We need to guard against that.

I know there is a lot of pressure on people to just believe in naturalism, especially when their degree or career depends on a public profession of faith in the power of chance and material processes. But we have to follow the evidence – science is about evidence, not ideology. Science is about testing to see what is true, not forcing the evidence to confirm what you want to believe (e.g. – materialism). There is a difference between the religious assumption of naturalism/materialism and the scientific method of predicting and testing.

Related posts

Learn more about intelligent design

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3 Responses

  1. Richard Ball says:

    Darwinism seems to be an anti-science in the sense that while scientists are happy to test other theories by seeking to disprove them, defensive, angry scientists circle the wagons and attack any attempts to challenge darwinism. Weaknesses are glossed over, and evidence is invariably interpreted in a way that supports darwinian assumptions. Natural selection is a no-brainer; it amounts to a circular argument that the fittest survive, and the evidence of being fittest is surviving. The real issue is the (im)potency of random, undirected, purposeless, mindless mutations to create stunning new functionality with vast amounts of new information. And, while time is the hero of the tale, the potency of random mutation appears to be very feeble indeed.

    It is troubling to engage in dialog with accommodationist Christians who feel it is somehow improper or unacademic or unsmart or irrational to challenge darwinism because it is, after all… science. This perhaps reflects a too-high view of science and a too-low view of revelation.

    Let’s try to show more confidence in our God, and the revelation he has given us. He has already told us that the sufficiency for life as we know it resides in his spoken commands (And God said…), and not in undirected, purposeless, mindless, and feeble random mutations.

    • I know that you may not agree with me on this, but I am an old-earth person, and I think the antidote to Darwinism is to look at how scientists fought against the big bang. They didn’t want to have the universe begin to exist, they wanted it to be eternal, because they didn’t want God. But the evidence of a universe created out of nothing was allowed to override the religious beliefs of the atheists.

      If only biologists could be as open-minded, and follow the evidence where it leads, we would not have this problem. I understand that scientists start out hoping the universe is eternal, and that nature can do its own creating. But if the evidence isn’t there for those religious beliefs, then let’s not hide the decline using Mike’s Nature trick in order to Climate-gate the public and keep the grant money rolling in.

      • Richard Ball says:

        “If only biologists could be as open-minded” Biologists are disproportionately atheists. The question is: are they atheists because they are biologists, or are they biologists because they are atheists? I suspect the intransigent latter.

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