Re: [asa] Re: "junk" DNA

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 13:23:01 EDT

*Again, there is a problem of what exactly is ID*.

This is a good point. If ID = "no common descent," then yes, it seems that
"junk DNA" would be a problem -- though given the snippets I've seen from
reviews of Behe's current book, it seems hard to claim that "ID = no common
descent." If the question is simply whether life was "designed," which may
or may not be "ID" depending on whom you ask, then I don't see "junk DNA" as
a problem. I've observed, however, that atheists use "junk DNA" not just as
an argument against ID, but also against any teleological view, including
any version of TE.

On 6/15/07, David Campbell <> wrote:
> Again, there is a problem of what exactly is ID. ID advocates have
> been saying that "junk DNA" isn't junk. However, whether or not one
> expects there to be junk DNA would require certain assumptions about
> the methods and intent of the designer. Thus ID has no a priori
> reason to not expect junk DNA nor to expect it, and complaints about
> scientific vacuity have some merit. On the other hand, ID opponents
> have invoked junk DNA as something not expected from ID. This of
> course makes assumptions (also frequently made by ID advocates) about
> what a designer ought to do.
> The results pose problems for other ID claims. The fact that certain
> functional sequences can vary drastically is problematic for the
> claims of low probability of obtaining a functional sequence that
> underlie specified complexity or irreducible complexity arguments.
> The pattern in which such sequences vary agrees with the expectations
> of common descent (with caveats about paralogy, differential loss of
> ancestral polymorphism, hybridization, etc.), something denied by many
> popular versions of ID. For example, ITS1 and 2 are apparently
> functionally important in spacing the ribosomal RNA genes, but their
> sequences are free to vary greatly. Things expected evolutionarily to
> be closely related have more similar sequences.
> Evolution is expected to place some pressure towards weeding out of
> unneeded DNA (how much pressure varying greatly depending on the
> organism's lifestyle and environment), so a limited amount of truly
> useless DNA would be expected evolutionarily. The fact that much DNA
> previously not known to have function does have a function is thus not
> a good argument against evolution nor for design, just as the presence
> of a bunch of totally unused DNA does not in itself argue for
> evolution nor against design. (Evolution and design of course ought
> not to be considered mutually exclusive, contrary to a major chunk of
> the bad theology underlying creation-evolution arguments.)
> Examination of the sequences themselves and their apparent
> relationships argues for evolution and against separate creation of
> either organisms or genetic diversity.
> --
> Dr. David Campbell
> 425 Scientific Collections
> University of Alabama
> "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Jun 15 13:23:10 2007

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