Re: Duplicate Genes

From: Loren Haarsma (
Date: Wed Jan 08 2003 - 13:25:25 EST

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    On Tue, 7 Jan 2003, Josh Bembenek wrote:

    > I wanted to stimulate some discussion regarding a recent article (and
    > corresponding News and Views) in Nature. Reference Gu et al., Nature 421,
    > 63-66, and 31-32.

    Here's my reaction to the study of duplicate genes and "duplicate"
    metabolic pathways, and your questions about evolution and design.

    If each gene encoded only a single protein,
    if each protein performed a single metabolic function in the cell,
    if each metabolic function in the cell was performed in only a single way,
    then Michael Behe would be correct in his assertion that
       irredicibly complex biochemical structures and novel functions
       could not (probably) evolve through mutation and natural selection.


    genes duplicate,
    many genes produce multiple products,
    gene products often perform multiple functions in the cell,
    and (very importantly)
    many metabolic functions in the cell can be performed in multiple ways, so
       that is one pathway is knocked out due to a genetic mutation, the cell
       has other ways to achieve the same function.

    Under these conditions, it IS possible (even expected) that mutation and
    natural selection could, over time, produce irreducibly complex
    biochemical structures and novel functions.

    It is a huge mistake to equate the term "design" with "could not have
    evolved", as the advocates of ID have essentially done. It looks to me
    like God has created a world where biological complexity and novelty can
    evolve. To me, that screams "Design."

    Loren Haarsma

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