Re: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Sat Oct 15 2005 - 12:59:46 EDT

I wonder if we don't get lulled into a false sense of perfection at
times. There seems to be a consistent pattern in Creation in which that
which is otherwise powerful and robust has a ubiquitous slender thread
of susceptibility or "weakness" that prevents the complete dominance of
the former, which would be the case if this thread were not present.
Just to mention a couple of "for instances", one might think of the
structural strength and mass of granite, which is nevertheless
susceptible to erosion by wind and water (to create soil); or perhaps
the remarkably robust and persistant DNA structure, which is at the same
time susceptible to mutation (which enables variability and
selection/election). While it might be tempting to think of a granite
which was impervious to erosion as perfect, or truly robust DNA -
completely resistant to mutation - as "perfect", the tension between
these sorts of strengths and weaknesses is a very Newtonian engine for
a certain dynamism, in the absence of which would exist only a really
boring stasis.

One wonders if the peculiar resonance with, "My grace is sufficient for
you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." is just coincidental.

Thinking out loud again....... JimA

Chris Barden wrote:

>>>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.
>>But because of computational limitations, it is an utter waste of time to
>>attempt this program.
>Agreed, if we had to search the entire protein. But it has been shown
>many times that substituting any individual amino acid, say, on a 250
>residue protein (roughly the size of cytochrome c oxidase) that the
>enzyme would probably still work, since its activity depends
>principally upon only a 20 residue section and directly on as few as
>three residues. Indeed, I've seen papers where a single residue was
>shown to be necessary and sufficient for an enzyme's activity, in the
>environment of the others. So the task might still be doable for
>individual enzymes that have this property.
>Vern Schramm and his research group has done quite a bit of work in
>finding substrates for enzymes that are as good as their known
>substrates, for the purpose of drug discovery. The potency of these
>molecules is many times more than is usually discovered (or even
>desired) for drug potency, which suggests that enzymes are quite
>optimal indeed. However, if one could produce a cytochrome c oxidase
>by directed evolution that performed its role better, then it could be
>treated as evidence against God's action. But it could just as easily
>be treated as God wisely making the site suboptimal so as to preserve
>an ancillary function of the enzyme in hostile environments (what do
>we mean by role anyway?). It could even be treated eschatologically,
>i.e. God doesn't want cyt c to perform optimally yet for reasons that
>are His own. I look at this problem as the main reason why "inferring
>design" probably can't be formulated in a scientific manner.
Received on Sat Oct 15 13:00:55 2005

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