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2010: Layer on layer of intricacy outstrips Darwinian just-so stories

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euphorbia obesa/frank Vincentz

Yes, finally, we come to 2010:

New Research Reveals Optimal Design of the Eye. Scientists have created a light-guiding model of the retina, which reveals that the glial (or Müller) cells provide low-scattering passage of light from the retinal surface to the photoreceptor cells, thus acting as optical fibers (Physical Review Letters, April 2010). Researchers concluded that the “retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images.” The glial cells do this in two ways: filtering out stray light and reducing color dispersion, thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio as light passes through them. According to a report in New Scientist, these findings open up potentially fruitful areas for biomimetic research. “The new understanding of the role of Müller cells might find applications in more successful eye transplants and better camera designs,” says Ribak. The human eye, which is already a remarkable example of functional engineering, continues to yield more evidence of exquisite design. All the more surprising, then, that Darwinians are persisting in their view that the eye should be listed among evolution’s biggest “mistakes”.

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Astrophytum asterias, different genus/David Midgley

Not really surprising. More and more, Darwinism survives in popular culture mantras like that one, “mistakes,” which principally depend on the fact that most people do not have the correct information and trendy types do not really want to know.

Second Genetic Code Discovered. In May Nature News reported that scientists are just beginning to understand the complexity of the processes that create proteins in our cells. The article reports that the distinction we normally see in human technology between hardware and software breaks down in biology, where molecules like RNA can both carry messages and help process those messages — a “second genetic code,” or the “splicing code.” From the article summary: “One of the most beautiful aspects of the genetic code is its simplicity: three letters of DNA combine in 64 different ways, easily spelled out in a handy table, to encode the 20 standard amino acids that combine to form a protein. But between DNA and proteins comes RNA, and an expanding realm of complexity. RNA is a shape-shifter, sometimes carrying genetic messages and sometimes regulating them, adopting a multitude of structures that can affect its function. In a paper published in this issue, a team of researchers led by Benjamin Blencowe and Brendan Frey of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, reports the first attempt to define a second genetic code: one that predicts how segments of messenger RNA transcribed from a given gene can be mixed and matched to yield multiple products in different tissues, a process called alternative splicing. This time there is no simple table—in its place are algorithms that combine more than 200 different features of DNA with predictions of RNA structure.” The article seems to miss the obvious implication that more codes and algorithms imply more design.

Actually, there is a practical, if not theoretical, upper limit to how many Darwinian just-so stories can be made up to account for all this.

Convergent Genetic Evolution Points to Design. An article in the September 2010 issue of Trends in Genetics describes how widespread convergent evolution is. The paper defines convergence as the “independent appearance of the same trait in different lineages.” Thus, genetic convergence is the independent appearance of the same genetic trait in different lineages. Examples include the multiple appearances of eyes, echolocation in bats and dolphins, pigmentation modifications in vertebrates, and multiple independent evolution of particular protein properties. The problem is Neo-Darwinian evolution isn’t supposed to be goal-directed, but some force is causing the same sequences—at the genetic level—to appear independently over and over again. In an un-designed world, this is extremely unlikely. Perhaps the design paradigm better explains the growing trend of convergent evolution.

Quite honestly, anything but Darwinism would explain it all better.

Meanwhile, the enforcement arm of Darwinism, both official and freelance, has been losing a string of cases, starting in late 2010, with the settlement made to astronomer Martin Gaskell in a University of Kentucky employment case, and continuing to the very recent settlement the California Science Center made to American Freedom Association.

The pattern seems to be that design and self-organization are moving slowly into the void created by the gradual winding down of Darwinism – in science. Darwinism will remain embedded in popular culture for decades, with the TV critic showing much more certain faith than the molecular biologist, and the high school teacher ranting for Darwin long after the biochemist is just silent on the subject. Thoughts?

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