RE: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Sat Oct 15 2005 - 21:02:34 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chris Barden []
> Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2005 12:20 AM
> To: Glenn Morton

> 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.

Do you have a reference for this single residue paper? I would be very
interested in seeing it.
If so, that would demolish the anti-evolutionary probability argument.
Almost any permutation would work. Thus I am a wee bit skeptical of that
but would love to see it.

> 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.

The above was NOT what you asked in the original note. You asked if there
were or could be any watermark, in design, not how could we read God's mind
to make any outcome be indicative of design. I don't care about how many
ways we could interpret a given situation to save the hypothesis of design.
Humans are very very good at rationalization. But, if every single enzyme
in a body was globally optimal for that body, it would argue very strongly
against evolution. (note in your response, you reversed the logic
(erroneously) to use lack of optimality to argue against God). That wasn't
what I was saying at all. Indeed, lack of optimality doesn't disprove god
but total optimality of all systems would disprove evolution because as
currently understood, there is absolutely no way the entire sequence space
could be naturalistically searched to ensure GLOBAL optimality. The logic
is a one-way street, not a two way street. One can disprove evolution, one
can't disprove God

In short, I don't think you followed my argument very carefully.
Received on Sat Oct 15 21:04:04 2005

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