Home » Darwinism, Evolution, Intelligent Design » The Secret Handshake

The Secret Handshake

Remember to use the secret handshake whenever you need to get an ID paper past the Darwinian goalies: “Although these observations do not undermine Darwin’s theory, …”

ABSTRACT: According to classical evolutionary theory, phenotypic variation originates from random mutations that are independent of selective pressure. However, recent findings suggest that organisms have evolved mechanisms to influence the timing or genomic location of heritable variability. Hypervariable contingency loci and epigenetic switches increase the variability of specific phenotypes; error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure. Although these observations do not undermine Darwin’s theory, they suggest that selection and variability are less independent than once thought.

Rando OJ and Verstrepen KJ (2007) “Timescales of Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance” (review) Cell, Vol 128, 655-668, 23.

February 2007)

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

14 Responses to The Secret Handshake

  1. “error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure.”

    Gee, it almost seems like a built-in response mechanism. Who’d a’ thunk? Darwin is soooo dead.

  2. Pardon my bullheadedness, but how does this paper advance the cause of undermining materialist ideology?

    Michael

  3. A friend of mine who received his Phd in biochemistry said he started doubting NDE when he saw the outcome of heat shock in bacteria. The process is similar in that the organism appears to have a built in mechanism to respond to external selection pressure. This again appears to support a front loading hypothesis which floats around here.

    And far from supporting NDE this absolutely undermines gradualism. It is great to see research like this coming out but it is far more Lamarkian than Darwin.

    BTW-does anyone know why Darwin is always cited and not Wallace? I have my theories but it is an odd anomaly of history that it is Neo-Darwinism and Neo-Wallacism.

  4. Darwin never used the term random mutation. That was the product of the research by Morgan in the 1910′s and 1920′s which along with Mendelian genetics formed the basis of the modern synthesis in the late 1930′s, early 1940′s.

    Darwin, I beliieve used the term spontaneous variations. So the papers by Schwartz, Woese, Margulis, etc. and that by Rando in this thread are in sync with what Darwin hypothesized as happening. The main difference is that Darwin nor anyone else witnessed anything but small changes happening through artificial selection so he proposed slow changes in nature just as Lyle proposed slow changes in geology.

    However, I am sure that Darwin would have signed right up for larger changes if anyone made a rational case for it. It would have fit the rest of his reasoning quite nicely. Of course no one at the time thought something like that was possible and even today we have no evidence other than conjecture that it could happen.

    But for a theory that is made up solely of hypotheses, why not think big.

  5. In case the paper gets reject the first time, just add “This paper in no way suports Intelligent Design”.

  6. Wallace believed in God, Darwin didn’t

  7. Nice. I wonder why people have a problem with this as strong evidence of front loading.

  8. I have been taking heat for over a year now by speculating that “random” mutation is not, in fact, so “random” as might have been previouly thought. I consider this review to be a vindication of that intuition, and an affirmation of the superiority of the ID approach to those of Darwinism.

  9. Jason Rennie,

    On another thread I speculated that good design would enable organisms to adapt to their environment within limits. This is obviously what we see with a large variety of alleles within organisms. As long as there is considerable variety in the organism’s alleles there could be sets of alleles that are better for one environment than another. For example, white color in polar bears may have started this way. This is very simple and is classic NDE and does not rule out a return to the original frequency skew once the environment turns around. The Darwin finches could be another simple example. This is an example where natural selection is part of good design.

    Who knows, there may also be complex switches within the genome that are affected by the environment that could be triggered to produce more dramatic differences in the right cases. This is certainly consistent with ID and good design. The only problem is we do not ever see this happening even with a variety of environmental conditions available on the planet and in the laboratory. But again if it did happen, natural selection would ensure it became fixed in the particular environment.

    If we did observe this, it does not necessarily mean the potential changes are unlimited or it is front loaded but could be just part of good design. Such organisms may be limited in the extent that they could vary in response to environmental changes. But again this is all speculation since we have never observed it happening. What we see is stasis. But notice if it were true it would not be at odds with either NDE or ID.

    Where they would differ is in what was the source of this capability. ID would postulate that this capability was the result of design while NDE would say it just happened. Such sophisticated capability if it existed would seem to deny naturalistic processes because random mutations should destroy this capability over time while it lay dormant. If there was some mechanism to preserve it then why? ID would say there would be a mechanism to preserve it and this is good design while NDE would not predict it.

    Of course NDE can be adjusted by some to predict anything, as we well know.

  10. On a scale of one to a hundred or more,
    My knowledge of genes scores barely a four.
    But even I, your thick bard,
    Can see the grass for the yard.
    Two intertwined topics gives ID “scoreboard.”

    How can Darwinists still stand, or do I not understand ‘em?
    NDE’s problems here seem an obvious tandem.
    Whether omniscience, frontloaded,
    Or just “attuned to be goaded,”
    These mutating genes do not appear to be random.

    Before you run off to Hanwell’s great zoo,
    I’ve a “cunning plan”, hand-shaken for you.
    In the abstract, see it solved –
    “Even telos evolved!”
    Evolution predicts it (and all other things, too!)

  11. late_model: “BTW-does anyone know why Darwin is always cited and not Wallace?”

    Wallace didn’t have a friend like Huxley to invent the term, “Wallacism.”
    __________

    jerry: “I am sure that Darwin would have signed right up for larger changes if anyone made a rational case for it… Of course no one at the time thought something like that was possible….”

    November 23rd, 1859.

    My dear Darwin,

    I finished your book yesterday… The only objections that have occurred to me are, 1st that you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum ["Nature does not make leaps"] so unreservedly…And 2nd, it is not clear to me why, if continual physical conditions are of so little moment as you suppose, variation should occur at all…

    Ever yours faithfully,
    T.H. HUXLEY.

  12. j,

    At any point in time there will be always advocates of anything so I should have qualified my comment a little. How is “Of course hardly anyone at the time thought something like that was possible…”

    Darwin was basing his ideas on things like dog and pigeon breeding which never saw anything but the small gradual changes. The success of his book was how it was tied down to what people had actually seen already happen. Darwin would have made an incredibly great used car salesman. Everyone should watch the video by John Angus Campbell which is available on the internet via google videos.

    If Darwin had tied his ideas to saltation, they would still probably be laughing at him or maybe have forgotten him. His ideas as it happened had little consequence in science till Mendel’s ideas surfaced and science indicated the age of the earth was 3-4 billion years old which allowed enough time for his natural selection to create earth’s variety. This didn’t happen till 50 years after the publication of his book.

    Genetics and Morgan’s work revived Darwin.

    Thanks for the quote by Huxley. If I make too many absolute claims, consider them all qualified a little.

  13. jerry,

    Many others, before and during Darwin’s time, believed in the need for saltations in any theory of evolution.

    Ronald W. Clark, The Survival of Charles Darwin (1984):

    Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire of Paris had meanwhile [1828] suggested a method of evolution that contained two seminal ideas. One was that evolution was caused by the direct action of the environment… In addition, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire believed that a new species might be produced by a number of large variations in one generation… “jumps”… By the time Darwin began his voyage in the Beagle, there was thus already in existence a background of discussions not only about the mutability of species but also about the question that was to divide evolutionists from the publication of The Origin of Species to the present day: did change take place by the slow accumulation of many minor differences or more quickly but jerkily as the result of a smaller number of major differences, which biologists call saltations.

    It’s because of the lack of transitional fossils in the geologic record. And although this lack of transitionals has been wished away by Darwinists, and obscured to varying degrees, it’s always been there, and been the impetus for recurring saltationist hypotheses. And before saltation, there was catastrophism, attempting to make sense of it.
    __________

    Darwin:

    Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against my theory.

  14. H’mm:

    Lurking in the background: the issue of needing to get to functionally specified, complex entities that often include many tightly co-apapted parts that the defect on any one will destabilise the function.

    That is, once we see CSI and IC as issues, then we raise the issue of the credible probabilistic threshold for getting to the required information by chance + necessity alone. That means the issue of intentional agent action emerges as a candidate for best explanation.

    In that context, “sufficiently complex” may emerge as soon as 500 bits worth of information [say, 250 GCAT elements] in the case of a unique configuration. This is so, as the space of possible configurations is then ~ 10^500 [and 1 out of 10^500 by chance -- recall, we are here dealing with contingent situations, has a very familiar degree of improbability . . .]

    So we are looking at a major conundrum for rejecters of agency on the origins of biosystems predicated on informational macromolecules such as DNA etc. {DNA chains for life forms range 300 – 500 k up to 3 – 4 billions or so, comfortably orders of magnitude beyond the Dembski-type bound.]

    So, the Egnor question emerges again: what is the reasonable rate of information generation accessible through RM + NS only?

    In that context, the observation reported through this abstract [and the now usual $30 to read more . . .] that there is some access to “pushing” adaptations — wherever the barrier on their range of variation may prove to be — in the face of an environmental stress, is a significant issue of finding yet a further subroutine in the algorithms of life. (Do I hear Lamark’s ghost laughing out there sometwhere?)

    Cheerio

    GEM of TKI

Leave a Reply