From: Sarah Berel-Harrop (
Date: Sat Sep 27 2003 - 10:47:49 EDT

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: RFEP & ID"

    Re: RFEP & IDHoward, let me take a guess at what he's talking about
    here, one that has the potential to get way over my head
    fairly quickly.

    It is true that there are "evolutionists" who have derided
    "hyperadaptionist" accounts of evolution. Lewontin &
    Gould prominent examples. Their complaint has been that
    the construction of evolutionary scenarios based upon
    selectionist accounts amounts to plausible (and in some
    cases, not-so-plausible) "just-so"stories. The spandrels
    paper one example of another way to explain something's
    evolutionary history (the gene or trait is a byproduct of a
    prior choice). There are also views involving utterly random
    occurences. Go to and ask for Larry (who is
    a molecular biologist) and you can get an earful about it.

    Lewontin in particular, and I don't know where but I will
    dig up the reference if anyone wants it, discusses
    differences in genes and proteins as what this author
    here terms as non-functional, Lewontin typically calls
    it noise. What was he talking about? The example I
    am thinking of involves 200 or so variants of I think
    hemoglogin, maybe myoglobin - that is not to mention
    the differences at the genetic level which are not even
    expressed - of which maybe three have an apparant
    difference in function. L says it's silly to look for a
    functional, adaptionist explanation for those differences.
    This author says, there's a function out there somewhere,
    you just haven't found it and if you do it will connote

    It is interesting to me to read this article that says he
    is wrong to say you should not look for function in this
    context, does the author ever share exactly how many
    differences there actually are and his methodology for
    ascribing them to design? And his comment that there is
    some kind of difference at the cellular level is interesting -
    that is actually a research question that can be done, if
    it has not already been done, and it may give useful
    information. However, to go from that to "design" is a
    big step. It seems to me that so many of these design
    arguments do not properly address the huge variation that
    exists in nature. Sure you can say that the variation
    exists for the designer's inscrutable purpose but why
    does that have explanatory power - from a scientific
    point of view - greater than this is noise. At least when
    you call it noise you are not committed to the explanation
    and you can discard it.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Howard J. Van Till
      To: Jack Haas ; asa list
      Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2003 8:43 AM
      Subject: Re: RFEP & ID

    > A related area of research involves the question of why those different
    > sequences are used. Evolutionists typically view them as the result of
    > random changes.

      Note how the camps are defined and named: there's the ID camp, and there's the Evolutionist camp. Either/or.

    > In other words, there is no functional reason for the
    > differences. This is typical for evolutionary theory. Rather than search
    > for a function, evolutionary theory quickly concludes that a design is
    > vestigial or perhaps the result of neutral evolution. In this way
    > evolutionary theory, not ID, stifles research.

      Here it would seem that the ID camp owns the idea of "function." Those "evolutionists" are not interested in finding function, but IDers are. Would an evolutionist care to defend the idea that looking for biological function is a stupid, non-evolutionist thing to do?

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