Re: Directed evolution: evidence for teleology?

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 00:50:32 EDT


The flaw in your proposal is the assumption that the most efficient
enzyme is the best. Who's to say that? In fact I can imagine
situations where that's not the case, where maximal catalytic
efficiency is undesirable given multiple design goals. You're playing
right into Cornelius Hunter's argument that "special creation"
couldn't produce a sub-optimal design. That's an unfounded
theological assertion.


On Oct 14, 2005, at 6:29 PM, Glenn Morton wrote:

>> -----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.

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
Received on Mon Oct 17 00:52:19 2005

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