Analogies for pseudogenes... a tipping point for the ASA? ([asa] Re: On the Barr-West exchange and ID/TE)

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Nov 17 2009 - 17:35:28 EST

The reason why the pseudogene argument is so strong is because errors are copied across different genomes. If things were made 'de novo' they wouldn't contain the errors from ancestors (pseudogenes are messed-up genes that actually work in ancestors but not in the current animal).

Examples of this argument are maps in which I heard that map makers purposely put in errors to see who is copying their work (evidence of 'descent with modification'). I believe also that Intel had a microcode lawsuit against Zilog for copying Intel microcode (copying errors is one sign of 'descent with modification' esp. since there are many different ways to write microcode to get the same function). I think Rich just added to this list by the example of the IBM design purposely adding the fake plastic in hard drives, mentioned below.

So just in the same way we know that people are copying, because of these designer tricks, we can know for sure that macroevolution happened, because of the copies of errors in the genome. Man came from an apelike creature, and was not created 'de novo.' I wonder what prevents the ASA from taking a strong stance on this; i.e., why tolerate YEC or OEC viewpoints on this, as if it is a reasonable position to have a 'de novo' idea of creations for humans? Maybe it is because this genomic evidence is still rather new, just a few years old because of all the recent sequencing. But I think the ASA will have to step up to the plate if it wants to be respectable and relevant... dealing with the consequences of this data in a reasonable way. Maybe the pseudogene evidence is the tipping-point to break-off from OEC/YEC? Maybe the ASA, by officially being agnostic and not repudiating YEC/OEC on this point officially, is contributing to confusion about evolution in the Christian world? After all, if there was solid evidence for evolution, wouldn't the world's best Christian scientists admit that forthrightly? Maybe the ASA is having the same consequences of 'big tent' mentality as ID is having (although, not at all to the enormous same extent)?

I would like to tell my Christian friends "The consensus of Christian science and theology experts (the ASA) is that macroevolution happened." But I can't do that.

(Friend of ASA)

From: [] On Behalf Of Rich Blinne
Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 10:24 AM
To: Schwarzwald
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: On the Barr-West exchange and ID/TE


I asked you if questions of "design, guidance, and teleology is a question science *can* address", with the additional questions "If so, how?" and "If not, then why won't the NCSE, Ken Miller, and the rest of the science defenders state explicitly that for all they know, evolution and nature can be rife with teleology, guidance, and purpose"?

Your response? Again, mostly evasions. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

But at least you're apparently saying that detecting "design, guidance, purpose and teleology" in the natural world is a scientific question. Wonderful, let's run with that.

I asked how. And I'm waiting to hear it: What would "scientific evidence" for "purpose" or "teleology" even *look like*? To say nothing of guidance and design at the level of an omnipotent, omniscient deity - much less teleology.

I think we agree here. Depending on the phase of the moon and cosmic rays I bounce between category 2 and 3. Personally, I don't think you can find scientific evidence for teleology but I am not going to preclude somebody who is really clever coming up with something. So, you'll have to ask those who think it's possible what the scientific evidence would look like. Note, though, my reasoning here is more theological than it is scientific. Thus, my ambivalence to the whole ID enterprise -- at least the non-culture wars, non-ideological part.

BTW, I didn't say there is no scientific evidence for purpose. I said there is no scientific evidence for teleology. They're different. The former is completely inscrutible to science. In other words, what ID is trying to do is a legitimate scientific enterprise but their and our greater goal of proving purpose is beyond science even if they end up succeeeding in their lesser goal of teleology. Still, they should stop pretending that they have already succeeded with their lesser goal because they tarnish all Christians who are scientists. It's the pretending more than anything else that gets the scientific community upset.

Here's another example. In engineering parlance, there's a requirements specification and a functional specification. You can sometimes reverse engineer the latter but not the former. In the early 1980s the Rochester MN division of IBM was concerned that other companies were copying their Winchester drives. So, they put a useless curved piece of plastic just outside the platters. Other companies dutifully copied it. The other companies understood the teleology but completely whiffed on the purpose. The only way for you to know the purpose was to do what I did and talk to the engineers. In the end, the only way to purpose -- and possibly teleology too -- comes from Special and not General Revelation. (This is the theological reason I mentioned above.)

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Tue Nov 17 17:35:50 2009

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