RE: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Fri Oct 14 2005 - 20:29:58 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Chris Barden
> Sent: Friday, October 14, 2005 10:57 PM

> I have been thinking a lot lately about the philosophical
> issue that drives ID backlash to TE, specifically Johnson's
> equation of TE with naturalism and practical atheism. This
> position, as I see it, is a refusal to accept secondary
> causes as sufficient for God's activity and is often
> portrayed as "God of the Gaps", though it need not be so
> formulated. To quote from "Darwinism Defeated?":
> "Is the evolutionary creationism of Denis Lamoureux different
> from what I have just described as theistic naturalism? It
> might seem so, because he endorses teleological evolution ...
> On closer examination, however, it appears that the
> 'teleology' part is entirely subjective and has no more
> scientific content than the 'theism' in theistic evolution.
> What exactly did God do (beyond establishing the laws at the
> beginning of time) and how do we know that he actually did it?"
> Temporarily granting this concern as being something other
> than (as I see it) misplaced, how would we go about finding
> "exact" evidence of God's episodic or otherwise primary
> activity in creation? Behe has at least made a potentially
> falsifiable stab at this question by looking for systems he
> deems "irreducibly complex". I thought of another one that
> could potentially be useful: directed evolution. My area of
> expertise, computational chemistry, is only very peripherally
> related to this new and diverse field so I felt I should ask
> for some ASA expert opinion on it. I have two questions, one
> scientific and the other philosophical/political:
> 1. Are there any distinctive watermarks left behind in the
> process(es) of directed evolution that could potentially
> allow one to discern an enzyme so optimized from one that was
> already "designed" by evolutionary processes over time?

In princiiple, yes, there could be a watermark which would distinguish
special creation from evolution. Contra Ms. Freeman. But I would agree with
her that it is a waste of time to attempt to find it. Here is what I would
take to be evidence of special creation vs. evolution---if one could prove
that the enzymes in the body were GLOBALLY the most efficient enzymes
possible. Evolution would be expected to find the most efficent enzyme on a
local level of the sequence space.---ok, I better explain sequence space.

For a protein each location has 20 possible amino acids which could be
there. That means that for a 150 amino-acid long protein, there are 10^195
possible permutations. This is the sequence space--that is the Global
space.. Well, it is clear that one can't possibly search all those
permutations, testing each one for efficiency because there has not been
enough time in the universe. There are only 10^17 seconds in the universe
and if you had a petaflop computer that examined 1 possiblity each second
you would only have examined something like 10^35 of all possible
permutations--this is the LOCAL space. Because of this, it is highly
unlikely that evolution found the most efficient of all possible enzymes.
But, if somehow, someone could prove that all the enzymes were globally the
most efficient, you would have a way to tell evolution from creation.

But because of computational limitations, it is an utter waste of time to
attempt this program.

> (And a final question 3: Has anybody attempted this kind of
> argument before? If so, references would be appreciated.)

Yes, lots of people try to prove God's existence through nature.
Received on Fri Oct 14 20:30:42 2005

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