Re: [asa] ID question?

From: Dennis Venema <>
Date: Thu Oct 15 2009 - 14:22:09 EDT

TED: I agree with you, Bernie: the genetic evidence, esp that coming out of the human genome project, is creating something of a crisis for some in the OEC camp. I also agree with your implicit definition of the OEC/TE division. Referencing my comments above, I add that for many (most?) ID proponents, the genetic evidence is equally capable of producing second thoughts. Their way out of this seems to be to keep pushing the possibility, however remote, that pseudogenes of the kind you have pointed to (vitamin C being a prominent example) really do have functions that will someday be discovered. It is not IMO unscientific to take that strategy, but it does seem more than a bit ad hoc. Copernicus, for example, realized that heliocentrism required the universe to be at least 1000 times bigger in radius than previously thought, since stellar parallax could not be detected in his day. He took the ad hoc response to the observational problem. Most of his contemporaries did the obvious thing: they continued to deny the motion of the earth, and thus the absence of visible parallax was to be expected. The ID proponents in this case are compared with Copernicus -- except that we now know Copernicus was right, and we certainly do not know that the ID proponents are right. They are betting on future knowledge turning out in their favor. By contrast, in their criticisms of Darwinian evolution, they are betting on future knowledge *not* turning out in favor of Darwinian mechanisms that are presently unknown.


A brief comment about pseudogene evidence and parallels to Copernicus: Copernicus was investigating a question at the limits of current technology and could not draw from other lines of evidence. That is not the case here: for pseudogenes, we can see what these sequences do in other organisms (for example the vitellogenin locus I discussed in my ASA talk this summer). We can also see that the pseudogenes are in the right genomic location in different organisms, as common descent would predict (synteny). We can also see that they retain amino acid homology even though most are no longer transcribed or translated (redundancy). Moreover, we can find pseudogenes that strongly suggest adaptation for ways of life the organism no longer uses (again, the vitellogenin gene is a good example: this gene is an egg yolk component in amniotes, but humans are placentals.)

So, Copernicus had to go the ad hoc route for absence of the ability to gather more evidence. Those who deny common descent and give ad hoc appeals to unknown pseudogene functions do so *in the face of several converging lines of evidence* that point to the same conclusion: that humans share ancestry with other forms of life. So, while there are similarities here, there are also significant differences.

The comparison might be more valid at the time when stellar parallax was first measured, providing a second line of evidence for heliocentricity.

my 2 cents.


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Received on Thu Oct 15 14:19:57 2009

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